My account of wanderings in Afghanistan and my many colourful conversations with my Afghan friends, detailing their lives and surroundings. Photos courtesy of my dear friends in the bold and beautiful land of AFGHANISTAN and from one of my visits to Pakistan.
Oh, Land of Majesty!
I call you Mother Brother Friend
You called me to your end
Lifted me in flight
Granted my eyes a grand sight
Wondrous reaches of spectacular peaks
The sky spread in praise doth speaks
There the remains of the silent Buddha’s great seat
How your parakeets do chatter
As the tanks and passersby do scatter
You keep aloof of the whole matter
Oh, Blue Mosque of Mazar!
How many doves there are Cooing and flocking
The whole world left stalking
The whole Universe cannot possibly contain
The beauty that you possess and maintain
Even the stars compete in vain
Oh, Nation of Lions!
The eyes of jealousy surround you I do see
Bombarding with wars of frivolity upon thee
How unjustly you so bleed!
War racketeers my ears do heed
What doth keep you strong
Oh, Marvelous Steed!
© 2015 Rebecca Martin
My decision to finally take a leap of faith and travel to Afghanistan, was after many years of trepidation and warning from friends and family. Due to the country’s turmoil for the past decade, many were concerned for my safety, and understandably so. Security is a never-ending and very real issue for Afghans and non Afghans alike. This in mind, I’ve always had precise intuition that lead me to the conclusion that it was ‘meant to be’.
I was unable to witness all of Afghanistan due to the security issue, what I did see was rough and rugged beauty, without a doubt. The mountains were beckoning and bold. Rivers and lakes surround to refresh your soul, while it seems the rest of you is greeted with heat and parched ground. The discrepancies in weather are most clever, leaving the sub-arctic northeastern reaches at odds with the drought-ridden southwestern regions.
I had never before encountered a village or it’s inhabitants but had an idea of what it might be like. I can’t say that I was too far off in my assumption that it would be a lot like camping, boiling your water for the luxury of a hot shower, toilets virtually non-existent, defecating outdoors (a given) interesting cooking methods and hospitality. The hospitality of Afghans is their pride and honor. It outweighs any downside to village living and is so endearing one finds themselves adapting to the lifestyle rather quickly.
My arrival at this particular village was welcomed with smiles and laughter from the village children and adults. I was sheltered, feasted, cherished, warmly received and treated as an honored guest. I became family, a distant relative. Daughter. Sister. I was enveloped with love and had much fun watching and learning their culture and traditions. The girls from various homes would come each morning and stay until dusk or later, offering to do my hair and make up, smiling and attempting to communicate through various means. At times causing bursts of uncontrollable laughter at our many failed attempts to understand one another. Speech wasn’t necessary amidst smiles and laughter. One of the sisters loved doing my make up for me. Each morning I would awake, wash my face and draw my eyebrows in or apply under eye concealer so that I wouldn’t look like a downtrodden traveler. This routine I was wishing to do in secret, as I was the only one doing so and felt somewhat vain. I must have sparked some hidden creative talent within one of the girls, as she insisted she apply full make up for me whenever she caught me mid-coverage. I was pleasantly surprised to see the finished product in the mirror. Absolutely artistic display of perfection!
I will never forget the warm, genuine hearts of the Afghans I met. Their care was genuine. Their smiles were broad. Their laughter touched the soul. Their stories were inviting. Their innovativeness motivating. Everybody in the village was generous and lovely. All spent time visiting me and caring for my every need. I suffered from giardiasis (an intestinal infection caused by a microscopic parasite that’s found worldwide, especially in areas with poor sanitation and unsafe water. Marked by abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and bouts of watery diarrhea) so everybody’s patience was surely tested with my subsequent complaints and discomfort.
I was far from perfecting my fluency in either Pashto or Dari, the two officially recognized languages of Afghanistan. This placed a huge wedge in the area of communication without a translator, but Kaka was not deterred. He would without hesitation start conversation with vivid illustration and depiction using his whole body as language. Flailing arms and boisterous words left us all rolling in laughter as Kaka expressed his life, adventures and stories to me. He was attentive and kind. A great man, not only in my mind.