Well, we are leaving in a few weeks. Now that all the boxes have been ticked and we have the final permission to go, I am lined with doubts. Ambivalence. Uncertainties. Will it work out – what ever ‘it’ is? This is the fourth time we have accepted a posting in Kabul. Why are we doing this again? Will our kids be ok? They are older, they know what is happening, they feel some of the losses of leaving. Will we be able to stick it? Will I?
And fragments of memories lurch up at me. Riding in a boot of a taxi from Mazar back to Kabul, a freezing 14 hr drive in early winter, 2001. A recently exploded vehicle on the road, victim of a land mine. Roses in the gardens. Old friends, who have long left Afghanistan, who I took to buy chickens, and we went from place to place to place, ending up at the Hill of the Sacrifice of Forty Virgins, where we drank tea under the mulberry teas and were at last permitted to purchase 5 chickens from a boy vendor. We took them home in the taxi’s boot, where the chickens squatted in darkness and fear, pooing uncontrollably.
When I arrived back in Kabul in 2008, I was so happy to be there I knelt and kissed the tarmac. US soldiers and Afghan businessmen looked at me, puzzled. Later, with my family, leaving the terminal, a policeman got in a fight with a passerby and my daughter got struck in the face. Such are the ambivalences of Afghanistan.