Friends Despite Afghan War Ruins

by Dr Hakim in Kabul

‘Darul Aman’,

was supposed to mean ‘Abode of Peace’,

but it became a charred caricature

of Man’s repetitive use of bullets, rockets, tanks,

bombs and ancient fire

to secure money,

and seize power.

Here, King Amanullah and Queen Soraya

dreamt of a ‘modern’ Afghanistan,

not knowing that almost a century later,

Tufan, Su’ood, Amir, Nemat, Matin and Nisar

 came to record its wounds and ask,

“What abode?Where’s the peace?”

Their strong heart-beats constantly grasp

for a measure of calm,

in a colonized city of shattered pulse vista.

Confronted with an intractable present,

 they ask a universal question,

“What can we do?”

Imagine a new direction,

and without winking,

venture a leap!

But how can reconciliation begin

if the old hasn’t healed,

if there aren’t hands to hold values other than weapons?

Not someone else’s hand.

Our hands.

It’s hard for Nisar to describe life under the 24-hour, million-dollar spying ‘blimps’;

they feel utilized, intruded into, objectivized, mechanized.

That’s why they propose

the preventative and personal security

of friendship.

When we put barbs on wires,

we separate,

we call on fear,

we divert opponents to even more violent ways to invade.

The foursome leaned on each other,

and mutually affirm their human instincts,

“We have no borders.”

Tolstoy’s war and peace,

Orwell’s war is peace….

“No,” the youth defy,

“War is War.

        We are Peace.”

    We need to be clear.

Of course Tufan wonders

if we can untangle what we built.

If fighting is our tendency,

why aren’t families killing one another

across the world?

We mustn’t shrink from the responsibility

that war is a choice

requiring much scheming and funding.

We can hence choose to abolish it.

When Amir visited Bamiyan recently,

he heard that Hazaras like him

are falsely pitted against Tajiks like Nisar.

We should place the science of our shared human genome on every politician’s table: Humans are 99.9% similar.

The morning light which bounced off my stained lens

covered Su’ood’s countenance,

but could not hide his need to recover composure.

War stains permanently.

It tears the picture.

Overlooking a main road near the American University

where at least 16 were recently killed,

we felt frustrated about

the vision which the royal Amanullahs

may have had for humanity.

How have we become blind to evidence?

With an outstretched heart,

Nemat is overcoming his father’s recent demise,

and his own undiagnosed limp.

He forms circles,

and participates in community.

Once, he said, “I see that I’m not alone.”

They stood abreast,


Not one of them was haughty.

They smiled,

and basked in the delight of alignment.

It is fine that picket lines are

a balancing act,

naturally imperfect, and un-straight.

Where are the oases?

Where have all the flowers gone?

They quickly left the small, freshly wet plot, out of respect to the gardeners,

the uncles who have

toiled as if in a desert

full of thirst.

How will the youth live,

where many governments are failing

despite their machinery, money and masks?

Person by person,

thought by thought,

they can refuse hate,

and refute norms.

Today, the normal kills.

Their sense of camaraderie,

an ease,

a different spirit,

surrounded the ruins,

and while historical artifacts

have become information that no longer enlighten,

the youth can stand tall

by being one another’s teachers.

Like many in war zones elsewhere,

out of the war rubble which Power throws away,

they look up,

they should look in,

they can breathe.

I’m so proud of them.


NB – The photos named “Hope in War Ruins 1, 2, 6, 10 and 15” are by Muqadisa. The others are by Hakim.