As I stare outside my Kabul hotel room at 630 am, I see the morning traffic has just begun. Vehicles pass few and far between, then the bicycles..until there’s a steady flow just a half an hour later. The mountains, an everlasting spectacle, seem unimpressed by the monotonous goings on below them. Standing majestic I can see the snow peaks to my left, Kabul mountain in front of me with homes etched within. I feel at home in this land, not like a stranger. Reminds me that home is not a place, but a feeling. Where I rest my head. Where my heart is. Home is where my story begins..
“Why did you invite me here?”
“Because I love you”.
With those words my defenses crumbled, but my heart still stung from the blows of your earlier confession. Why were you opening up now? No matter your reasons for not telling me before, nothing added up, nothing made sense. Now everything seemed so bitter sweet.
I don’t believe one can ever fully comprehend the energies at work within our hearts, minds and the battles they fight. I knew why I had traveled to Afghanistan, and had been longing to come. I knew exactly why I was there, but when heart and mind are involved in a struggle, things become discombobulated.
My heart continued to sink into a pit of despair as I was left questioning my own intelligence. How is it possible that something unseen can make you feel so deeply? How is it that your sweet words of adoration attempted to revive me afterwards, but failed. Your words stood little chance and quickly succumbed to the weight of my mind’s skepticism. The risk I took to meet you seemed fruitless at this point. Everything mixed with love becomes more complicated. All is fair in love and war, and our love was no exception. The truth was, I had ultimately betrayed you as well, and in such ways you may never know. “Why am I here?” , my mind echoed like a drum beat within a mountain valley. The answer was found within my heart and my walls relented and soon crumbled, as we embraced in a silent pact to never again speak of the past again.
It’s just past 1pm as my driver sends a text letting me know he has arrived and is waiting. As I leave my suite I’m aware of familiar smiles and greetings as the friendly cleaning staff, alerted by my room departure, vacate their nearby staff room to attend to mine. I’m just as curious about the young boys as they are about me, but I don’t let it show. At times, when I’m present during their room sweep, I catch their curious glances and grins. As I smile in return, we all become aware of the many words left unspoken, being barricaded by tongues of different mothers. Nevertheless, throughout the ages, language barriers couldn’t prevent eyes from intermingling, sending hidden invitations to engage in different forms of interaction. This, so I’ve been told, is how the sexes here make secret arrangements to meet and engage in (what this society perceives as) morally corrupt practices, of a physical nature.
The night brought little sleep as my stomach proclaimed the invasion of an unfriendly parasite. Loose motion for hours, but I can’t complain, I have evaded the persistent pain that usually accompanies such stomach infections. I am pleased with myself for bringing Wormwood and Black Walnut tonics to aid in the fight against this unwelcome invasion. I have been drinking them frequently hoping to effectively stunt the parasite infection. Time will tell.
My stomach bubbles and surprisingly grumbles with hunger, but under the circumstances, I opt for a no food approach.. for the time being.
Waiting has never been my forte…
Where are you? My question has once again arisen like deja vu as I await his arrival to my suite. As I sit, I wonder if my shirt is appropriate or not. It doesn’t quite cover my bottom and is slightly see through with it’s yellow cotton and elegant embroidery. I don’t feel comfortable in traditional Afghan clothing, so I was excited when he told me I could wear jeans to the restaurant last evening. Made me feel that much more relaxed.
It’s another day, 8am is early for room cleaning, but who am I to say. As I open the door, my curious eyes are greeted by no less curious stares. I am greeted with “Hi, Good Morning” as I allow their entrance to my already tidy suite. Fresh towels are a welcome. The testosterone in the air is hard to bare and the silence between us, deafening. I try not to make eye contact but find it hard as one of the boys goes out of his way to draw near to me, finding items in close proximity to dust or arrange. I find it sweet and reward them with my smiling glances. One of the boys seems concerned that the other lad’s behavior may be a disturbance, as he stood idly nearby he made attempts to draw the other boy’s attention. Truth be told, I looked forward to seeing them and was a little disappointed when they had days off. They lifted my spirits for the time being and I sensed they felt the same way. We had forged some sort of connection, not knowing one another’s name. So much so, that on the day of check out I looked for them to say goodbye. As fate would have it, they were not around. Who likes goodbyes anyway? Perhaps we shall meet again, in this life or another.
Today was a holiday, Navruz the Persian New Year. I was taken up to where many families and youth were flying kites and enjoying rides. It was a a mountain gathering of fun and festivities, but I was to remain in the vehicle. I grew accustomed to this, it was armored after all, and was a barrier from the multitude of stares and cameras. Even from within the vehicle I was the center of the attention on most drives. How Afghans can spot a foreigner so well is quite impressive. Then again, they’ve been bombarded by foreigners and invaders for long enough to gain this, perhaps… adaptive trait?
“Everyone passing is looking at her”, my friend’s cousin sitting in the back seat mentioned. We in the front had also noticed the craziness of the situation and started laughing in unison. My friend who was driving commented, “This has never happened before with other foreigners, I don’t know why, it’s you..I had told you that you’re beautiful.” That was it. Apparently I was a phenomenon.
Copyright 2015 Niazmina