Sorry for the silence. We are back in Australia. It is not an easy transition, and we are lying low. Many people are very happy to see us, and we are happy to see old friends too, but that does not make this place home. ‘home’ has become a layered concept. It is not Perth anymore, it is not Kabul, nor Mazar, nor the other places we have lived. It is not the friends we have, nor where our family are.
I guess where I now feel most at home is a place where I am part of a community with shared goals and hopes. Being part of a committed group of people, all oriented towards a similar goal. Living closely with people in a life and with a lifestyle where we feel tangibly, daily, viscerally, the urgent needs of people who are poor and marginalised and suffering. And where we try to do something about those needs.
It is going to be hard to build such a community here in Perth.
A few days back, Dave asked me how I could be missing Afghanistan and why I was so ambivalent about being back here. It seemed to him from most of my writings that I was generally not happy living in Afghanistan. It was a good question.
My answer then was trite and a bit clever. My more reasoned response now, is that being happy is not really that relevant. Happiness is not a sign to me of doing what is right. Happiness has nothing to do with following the call of my conscience and my faith. I would rather be unhappy and faithful than happy, any day. Happiness ranks very low on my personal priority scale.
That said, it is quite happifying being here in the bush in SW Western Australia for a while. But I know within a month or so, I will be pining for blackouts, cold showers, suicide bombs, crap roads, the wail of the azan and the smell of the sewer. Pining for a life more miserable, but infinitely more meaningful.