by Pamir Scahill
We were near to land at Kabul International Airport. My mother told me to look downward from the window of Arianna International Airlines’ new and huge plane. Down what I saw is still recurring in my dreams. The entire city was looking like a huge landscape of illuminating gems, diamonds and crystalline glass of all rainbow colours. I was laughing and was excited, wanted to jump from the plane and fill my pockets with all these beautiful gems. I asked my mom, ‘I want all these crystals’; she smiled and said ‘No worries.’
In the meanwhile, we heard a message from the captain that we are about to land and we have to fasten our belts. My mother put me in another seat and fastened me. I murmured to see more from the tiny window and when my mother didn’t pay attention I started screaming, and crying. That was the first time I cried for Kabul- my romance!!
Mother didn’t move with my demanding tactics, and finally we arrived in the airport. When we were going out from the airport, I remember my father took me in his hands and after a few minutes I fall asleep; tears dried up on my cheeks.
In the morning I found myself in a small bed. My mother came and took me to washroom. After a few minutes again I was caught by the spell of gems and diamonds and I started demanding those things which I had seen through plane’s hard glass window. My mother tells me often that I was then a ‘bad boy’ and that I had annoyed them very much!!
After some hours my mother convinced me and said there were no crystals, diamonds or precious stones in Kabul, she told me ‘they were electric bulbs of various colours winking from homes’. I was convinced, still sobbing!!
My mother told me we are at our grandmother’s place. I saw my uncles and aunts and my grandma. They were looking after me and my youngest aunt took me outside to a playground. I played with her and later on she took me to have an ice-cream. After a few days we got settled in our new home, which I remember was in Mikroryan. In a few days Noroz (Afghan New Year Eve, March 21) arrived and in those few days I saw many places in Kabul.
To summarize, all I remember now is the green hills, neat and clean roads and streets. People were selling boiled eggs and Shornakhod (boiled beans) in the streets. We had beautiful parks and playgrounds. In the main bazaar we would hear voices of hawkers, mixed with loud Indian music and would feel the savor of Kabob, grilled corn. Shops of beautifully decorated Sheeryakh (Afghan ice-cream) and a lot of children dressed in colourful, unique dresses, some looking like acrobats and clowns. The city was alive then, and everyone was living happy and in peace. My school, I remember today, was not less in any standard from modern schools of Europe and India. We had very kind teachers and we would be really enjoying learning there. It was fun being in school. In the winter the entire city would be reflecting white rays of light from the snow lying on ground. We would be sliding on snow-slides in the playgrounds and would be taking hot black tea with almonds, pistachio and raisins in the supper.
By the time I was 14 years old, I had finished my 7Th grade in the school and was counting days for the beginning of new school sessions after long winter vacations, something happened which stunned me and my entire family. I saw people running in the street and after a few minutes we heard firing and blasts. I was shocked and was extremely furious. Hours later my father entered home, with wild eyes, pale face and was trembling- he said ‘Kabul is no more a safe place, war has begun’. He told my mother to pack a few clothes and that we are leaving everything else.
We stayed for a few days at my aunt’s place and then were heading towards Jalalabad in a huge truck filled with our belongings.
Years later now, I have realised that my mother was not right. There were no light-bulbs glimmering, rather they were beyond-price, valuable, shiny diamonds.
If not diamonds, then why would wild bearded men - wearing loose uncultured dresses and guns in hands - come and set Kabul on fire? Why would they snatch our dreams from our eyes and why would they mix the irritating smell of blood and phosphorous bombs with the savour of lamb-kabob?
Ages ago, the bloodshed began and it continues to date; do we need a Processus de Kimberley to save our huge diamond - Kabul?