Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Land Of Opiate Lions

I walked slowly,haltingly,each step an impossibility of action,of thought.The road was an amalgam of loose soil,blown fleetingly from Kotal-e Salang,and asphalt,a trickling example of modernity in civil engineering.The air was dry and barren,much like the state of affairs of its nation.I felt tired and defeated but primarily disgusted at my own impotency to change anything.War evokes this feeling in the most deadened of hearts,but this was not war,i mused,it was a bloody extermination;of men,of tradition,of culture and the world had turned a blind eye to it.I walked on,each step a symbol of my personal Waterloo.What was it that i had thought that i could change in this fate less nation where death enveloped men not with a quiet dignity but with a hound's blood lust?I was ordinary and the world did not respond to the ordinary;it responded to men of power,but men in power wanted wars and tumbling economies so that they may build their own empires of wealth.Money which came from thriving opium business and the global arms race.What could i do in this world which was governed by laws i could not understand?

Kabul was feverish;with disease,hunger,deaths and grief.Men looked on with hollow eyes at the debris of their spiritual essence,of their homeland which has served as a foster battleground for the mighty of the world.Afghanistan's beauty lies neither in the sheer magnificence of its virgin land and nor in the towering Hindu Kush mountains which serve as its pseudo guardians;it lies in its resilience,its solitude and the indomitable spirit of its people.There have been days when i have cried like a child looking at shards of humanity in this god forsaken land ;where men risk everything for one another,where each day is a battle not for survival but for hope.Kabul was resilient and that was all that mattered to its people.The by lanes of fear,the army rangers patrolling the area for security and the Presidential Palace in all its magnanimity were sights of assurance that helped keep life going on.When i had set foot in Kabul,i was excited and interested in the state of life,now i felt devoid of all emotion except for a confused state of rage and helplessness.I was not alone in my sensitivity,there were many who were aware of the turmoil the nation was in but like me,could really not do anything worthwhile.

I was an outsider but the Afghans welcomed me with open arms.The hard humor at the US Army bases goes as-An Afghan embraces you only to stab you in the back,i do not believe this to be true and a certain level nor do they;but the imperialistic discourse in their foreign policy is unmissable.They never came here looking for terrorists.They came here for a stronghold over Western Asia,a potent strategic location.What is audacious and overwhelming so is America's sordid belief in its exceptionalism and fundamental sense of righteousness that it fails to acknowledge cultures and traditions apart from his own.Afghanistan has/had(can't really place a finger on it) a rich culture and one finds delight and finesse intrinsically layered within its various art forms,something that is disappearing for no apparent fault of theirs;for one cannot really expect them to preserve art when they are struggling to preserve their life?I was certain their must be a logic,a finality of thought that could explain this spectacular holocaust but i was certain no man alive could fit all the pieces together.While i drift towards philosophy,the battle weary Afghans contemplate existentialism,i gather a local translation of Camus would do them some good.I walk some more,inhaling the stench of dry sweat and absorbing the contours of a nation that is fighting since time immemorial.Generations of men have fought for a freedom whose essence they themselves have forgotten.

To quote an old cinematic Afghan about the enemy's prayer-"May God deliver us from the venom of the Cobra, teeth of the tiger, and the vengeance of the Afghan."

My story is not yet over but i cannot write anymore for i fear sheer despondency may force me to abort my endeavors of chronicling my journey of this land of opiate lions.