The last month has involved, in this order, me stabbing myself in my thumb knuckle, deeply, striking bone and rupturing the capsule and rendering me 9 fingered (temporarily); a nasty burn on my calf being the result of a hot water bottle (pathetic, I know); and a sense of being inflated by a bike pump, and a lot of time spent in the bathroom. And being really, really tired. And uncreative.
But things are looking up. Megan the wonder surgeon (taking over from Ken the super surgeon) sewed up my thumb on a Friday afternoon at the kitchen table as I held the torch (power went out as she made the incision). And here’s a tip: locally bought lidocaine is about 30% as strong as it should be. That is, it wears off after 20mins rather than two hours. Or, more precisely, when the surgeon is still stitching.) The leg burn wound thing is healing. Etc. And it is turning to Spring. A few markers of this: it is raining, not snowing. I have stopped wearing long-johns. I have stopped wearing mittens. I have moved back into my office at work (rendered uninhabitable over winter by the freezing temperatures, the leaking roof and the freezing temperatures. And the leaks.) We have stopped heating our home 24/7. The snow is melting. We played soccer and threw balls around in the yard and it was great.
Interestingly, today as I walked to work, some guys in a Technical drove past.
Ostensibly, I suppose, they were guarding a VIP. But it was identical in appearance and form to Taliban times, and it prompted in me an internal conversation about evidence of real changes over the last 10 years. There was a Government then – as now. Both are seen by a large proportion of the population as illegitimate or propped up by foreign regimes (Saudi/ USA). Both had or have limited power outside of Kabul. Both tried or are trying to win loyalty and support from – or at least create cohesion in, a country that is still not a nation, and where ethnic and tribal links are far more deeply rooted than any kind of allegiance to a central power. Neither has done anything much to improve the rights of women or ethnic minorities. Security under both has been terrible; arguably better under the Taliban. Both stimulated very piecemeal/ ad hoc/ ineffective economic and foreign policies. Ministries are run by commanders and warlords in both cases; both have been hostage to the religious power-brokers. I’m not arguing things were better then; but I don’t thing things are much better now. Not in an enduring sense. This is not what you could call a robust, well rooted, popularly-supported Government, not a Government with effective control and reach, not a country that is united and cohesive, not functional, not secure, not maturing. Not yet.