What would it mean to live with war and conflict all your life ? To be born into a War and grow up with violence around you ? War would seem like a natural activity. The violent, gory blood-shed would become part of the psyche ? What kind of values would one develop ? Of right and wrong ?
Afghanistan, a fierce-spirited country, proud and self-respecting nation, would be an example of such a psycho-social fabric. There are of course other places too like Palestine etc.
Kabul has a special place in my heart. Bombed out of its mind and heart, the empty shells of many a building that stare out blindly at the world, Kabul stands testimony to Afghanistan’s gory history of three decades of war and turmoil.
The narrow by-lanes, the mud/ adobe houses, ingrained with old timber, its bustling and jostling market, the all-pervasive smell of the kababs, and the pictures of Hindi film heroes and heroines along with blaring hindi songs at every corner, made a unique mix of charm. Combined with the warmth of smiles of the people, the city could win anyone’s heart.
The contradictions in the human psyche manifest externally and violently in Kabul. Children playing among the ruins and pock-marked walls was an anomaly one could not adjust to. So was it difficult to relate with the strong American accents of these kids. So was seeing tanks, soldiers with guns, being frisked and checked at various points, difficult to handle.
One takes one’s freedom for granted – freedom to speak, to write, to travel around, to live life the way one wants, to believe in one’s beliefs … everyday normal stuff. Until one encounters a Kabul. Until one listens to the everyday stories of people. Until one witnesses the results of human need for power and control over another.
What kind of futures would the young ones have? What will they grow up to be? What happens to the wounds that the hearts and spirits carry – of witnessing whole families wiped out, of the treatment which mothers, sisters and aunts received. What would be their God? What right does another human have to walk into your homes and lay it in ruins?
One feels deep compassion and a deep sympathy for a people of such a nation. An admiration for the endurance of the human spirit, the ability to adapt and adjust and find happiness in whatever one can, fly kites and hear songs, fiercely grasping at the little that comes their way ….
Kabul is a testimony to the human spirit !