Occasionally, around this time of evening, I wonder how this all happened. Why here? Why this? Why still? Not in a existential way, just curious. Cousins, friends, schoolmates of mine now work in banks, in oil companies, in businesses. Did we all chose these paths, or did things just open up as we went along? I don’t think I ever imagined at age 40 I’d be here in Kabul with my family. But here we are. And just as I cannot imagine working for a bank in Sydney, I suppose many of my peers cannot envisage working and living here (though how I wish they could).
These reflections are in part a product of my personality, how I try to make sense of things. They are probably also a product of Dad dying, of how that marks a milestone in my own life. They are a result of this last week’s violence in Mazar, Kandahar and Maimana and of the subsequent evacuation of our team in Faryab. Some of them are now staying with us, less than a week after we have returned here. All this highlights to me how vulnerable, how transient we are. How all we try to do here can seem to be washed away in a single day.
And it could be that am just unsure if we are getting anywhere, when such anger is still so prevalent and powerful.
Should that matter? No, not really. At a deep, unmoveable level, I am not bothered by such arithmetic. There are many people before me in this story of Afghanistan’s development, who have seen their efforts and that of their friends and colleagues come to little. There will be many after me. I am just another person wanting to see some outcome as a result of my effort, and realising again, again, again that this may not be. We have grown so impatient, us children of the West, that we believe that what we do today, should show an impact tomorrow. The world is so much more resilient than that, perhaps. Certain places, certainly.
And anyway, wondering why it all happened and why am I here is a foolish enterprise. We are here. Introspect too much and you end up flaccid and moribund, and have people talk about you behind your back.
Though it is hard to see the end of it now, I guess we will round a corner sometime. I suppose those who would wage war will gradually tire of it. Those who will volunteer to suicide themselves will lose their enthusiasm. They will have kids, and instead will want to buy hamburgers and Nintendos. People will slowly see the benefits of civil society, will want their children to grow up, to live, to thrive. To go on trips to Delhi and Venice.
After all, we feared that today, after Friday prayers, riots and protests would break out. It was not so. Despite the evacuation of our team in Faryab, it has been peaceful there (the continuing rain helped, probably – it is hard to stoke up boiling anger in pouring rain). People chose peace. They can do so again. I might not be here to see it, to feel it. But it will come, despite the efforts of the international community to birth it prematurely.
Spring is here. And in case you are wondering, this photo is not touched up. The man’s suit was that colour; fluorescent orange. Wow.
Apricot blossom near the kids new school.