| We left the plane in the middle of the ground. We walked to a bus which took us to the terminal. There was no electricity so the conveyer belts were not working so the couple of first hours went by as I sat down waiting for my bags to be hand delivered. I did not believe where I was. The smell of earth in the air and the October breeze were both as they were fourteen years ago. The streets looked the same, taxis had same colors, but people looked dustier and buildings looked smaller.
The next two weeks that spent in Kabul not only changed me a great deal. It also brought together what I was because Kabul and with my qualities that I had acquired living away from home. Before setting off to Kabul I thought I was going home but as I stayed there and talked with people I realized that it is not only my home that gives me my identity but I bring identity to my home too. My trip back home was a journey of self-realization.
I do not know where to begin but as one wise man told me “if you do not know where to begin then just begin”. So here; I begin from the day I heard the news. I was walking in Earl’s Court in London, late for my appointment madly searching for the solicitor’s office, when I got a call telling me that I was going to Kabul.
I was born in Kabul and had lived there for six years, so in theory I was going back to my birth place. Needless to say I was excited. But mixed with the excitement of going back was fear, fear of not finding what I had left behind. In Kabul I used to stand in the middle of the kindergarten playground and with my head up I turned round and round seeing mountains all around me, some so blue that they merged with the sky. Life was perfect in Kabul, except times when my father woke me up and took me to the basement from where we saw little red lines in the sky that faded like broken stars. They were missiles that the USSR backed government and the Mujahiden fired on each other, using my city as the war ground. We left Kabul in 1989.
Now after fourteen years I was going back. The preparation went like a dream, in no time I managed to fill two suitcases, made zillions of calls to the travel agent and let every soul know about my trip. It was two of us going, my friend Esmat and I, armed with enough diarrhea, sore throat and flu medicines to cure a small epidemic; we set out from London Heathrow. We were to go to Frankfurt then board the only flight to Kabul from Europe. We both had a permanent grin on our faces. In Frankfurt our hearts were frantically racing when we saw the name of Kabul and Ariana airlines on the boards. There we joined about a hundred more people like us who were going back home.
Everything on board the Ariana Airliner was a novelty; the air hostesses speaking our language as if by magic, the little blue Ariana logos in the corner of the tissues and the delicious food made us excited and happy like children. Passengers were exceptionally chatty, eager to share the thrill of returning home.
There was a middle aged man behind me with his father and daughter. He told me his story. He used to be an engineer in Kabul. He had lived in Canada for two decades and now he was going back. He showed me his old ID card. He said he was going back to Kabul to marry off his daughter. It sent a shiver down my spine, his daughter was about my age, and looked westernized enough to know about arranged marriages. As we got closer to our destination, the excitement eased down and reality took over. I changed into something that I thought was more acceptable in Afghanistan.
There was a lot of politics involved in my trip. I was going because the country was no longer in control of the Taliban. I was going because I could wear almost what I wanted and spoke as I pleased. At time I felt like a coward, going back to Kabul when it was at its best and abandoning it when it was suffering. I was going to do my bit for the country, to help out, so were thousands of others. I did not know if I should be happy or sad about it.
As we got closer my feelings were so mixed. Esmat did not want to sleep, he was telling about his Kabul. His Kabul was more peaceful, it was more vivid as had lived there for longer. Sometimes I think that the older an Afghan is the better memories they have, the younger they are they least they have seen of the country in peace. Esmat told me stories about his school in Kabul, about the time he broke his little finger playing outside on the streets. His Kabul was so different from my Kabul.
I was growing impatient; it felt like time was still, not passing at all. After hours and hours, we finally arrived. As the plane descended I was feeling all the excitement there was to feel.
The plane landed about four hours late, good enough for the only and over worked plane of Ariana airline. The plane was present “from people and government of India to people and government of Afghanistan.” Indians gave us another dream along with millions of songs and films. We could look outside. Landing in Kabul felt like landing in to a Chinese soup bowl with mountains drawn in it. Kabul looked smaller. What was left of the old skeletons of old fighter planes, heavy machinery and vehicle were all over the dry patch of land that was meant to be the airport.
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Nothing is changed!!! Haseeb
| Sep 20th, 2003
Almost a year after the Civil society Conference, you would still find kabul the same as it was a year ago when it comes to devolopment and progress,just as expected.
The conveyer belts in Airport are still not working,measure the progress in reconstruction after a year.
But,dont think much is expected from a nation that has seen all brutualities for the past 23 years then this.
Greattttttttttt! Mujib Mashal
| Feb 26th, 2004
I really like your story, specially the way it is written.
We were in the same group at the conference, I was the youngest and the smallest one.Hope you remember me!
Take care and keep up the great work!
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