by Dr Hakim in Kabul
Government officials and business people today routinely negotiate,
“We’d like to extract the oil.” Or gas, or such and such a mineral.
Water? “Oh don’t worry, we’ll see to that too….”
But they’re not angels, and their bottom line is profit,
so, Nature and human beings have a problem
having enough to drink, and to survive,
not just along Kabul River,
but also along the Missouri and Mississippi of the Standing Rock Sioux.
They craft the ‘legal’ rules of the industry,
and embellish their plans with ‘democracy, or development, or rights’.
They enjoy impunity,
unless, together, we speak up,
and ‘vandalize’ the ‘norms’,
beginning with the habits of our minds.
With the groundwater level across the world dropping,
we had expected the well of our rented house in Kabul to dry up.
Yet, or despite this, or worse, because of this,
government-corporations are ever ready to wage well-funded wars,
and to extract from the earth’s bosoms to feed their machines.
Their bank accounts and cars are more important than babies, and rivers.
The elite invest our tax money
in reaching new depths
of weapons and technologies,
rather than in addressing root causes.
The scandal is that they probably understand:
installing CCTVs, blimps and nuclear power apparatchik
cannot heal hunger, anger,
They even approve their ‘civ-mil’ plans
in Parliaments and Congresses,
and take their bonuses and extras
from the tax coffers
which they and the super-rich are exempt from.
They call this the economy.
Bang! Clank! Bang!
For about 10 days, outside our kitchen window,
the hired ‘well-diggers’ rammed huge rods
through the soil and rocks
to a depth of 50 metres.
Meanwhile, in containers on a wheelbarrow,
we fetched water from another yard,
for the garden, and for ourselves.
We supplemented with bottled water,
which made us feel like ‘privileged’ betrayers,
asking, “Should we tolerate drinking contaminated water?
Tolerate for whom?
As if protesting the strain and trapped sediments,
the water pump stopped working.
Our neighbours, Ali, Ghulam, really, all of us were relieved
when the water gushed out again.
Ali felt that the street kids shouldn’t be
kept ignorant of the water crisis.
Over a few lessons, with games and activities,
the ‘best’ drawing was selected,
and the kids went knocking enthusiastically on the neighbours’ doors,
saying, “Our message is,
Besides human beings, our water is being disappeared.
There is no strategy to halt such pollution.
Officially, the U.S.-sponsored government of Afghanistan is an ally,
receiving Resolute Support for their infighting, squabbles,
suits, ties, turbans, corruption,
and the worsening war!
Saying anything else makes us ‘insurgents’.
Whenever Zekerullah walks by the Kabul river tributary just next to our house,
and sees the sheer systemic destructiveness,
the smells, the sewerage and the sight
makes him profoundly nauseated.
Water, food, shelter, genuine security,
healthcare, education, friendship
are basic needs that are not merely poorly met,
their deficiencies tax our bodies and minds daily.
So the Afghan Peace Volunteers sought to de-stress
by spending a day by the Salang River.
The water was alive and therapeutic.
Feeling the river’s strong flow against our legs,
and shivering from the cold of Hindu Kush origins,
we were eased into healing.
Knowing we’re made mostly of water,
breathing, evaporating, metabolizing the same precious element,
it is no wonder that when Zekerullah heard about
the sacred Mississippi and Missouri Rivers,
he grabbed the digital waves in solidarity.
Relating in these times is an emergency!
It’s not that people don’t have voices.
It’s that our voices are relatively isolated,
and if registered at all, callously ‘dismissed’ or ‘filed away’.
But some of those voices came together during the Zoom conference,
vocal chords from Olympia, Chicago, Taiwan and Kabul:
“Our home is on fire! It’s the only planet we have.”
“Water is incarcerated.”
Dogs and mace, arrests, LAW!
Zekerullah, Ghulam and Khamad said to the Standing Rock Sioux Communities,
“I hope your river will not become like our river,”
Zekerullah stated his concern.
He said what all of us should say in diverse unison,
“Our government is ignoring the water crisis.”
We must overcome their neglect. #NoDAPL
“We are with you!”