black turbans & white wigs

January 31, 2008

‎”honey, let me get those for you”, says the woman and sails across the room to her ‎husband who is struggling to button his french cuffs. it’s always been a struggle. the damn ‎slits never seem to line up and are always stubborn in allowing the studs to penetrate. the ‎man sighs and lets her button them. afterwards, she straightens the knot on his striped tie and leans in on him and tells him how ‎nice he smells. they kiss, he takes one last look at the mirror, and starts to leave. looking at just another day’s work ahead of him. he climbs down ‎the stairs, puts on his shoes, and then hears her yell something from upstairs. he cannot ‎hear it distinctly. ‎
“chi gufti azizem?” (what’s that honey?)‎
this time she puts her head out of the bedroom door and repeats:‎
‎”I said… be careful…just be careful..” ‎
he yells a “Kho” back, walks to his car and is suddenly reminded of that ‎timeless phrase by Hannah Arendt: “the banality of evil.” ‎
it’s just another ordinary day, another day in kabul, a sunny -albeit cold one- and the radio is pumping music from the latest episode of the afghan star. the man starts the car and waits for the engine to warm up. minutes later, he gets out of a side street and is driving on the main street, on the taimani road. on the rearview mirror he sees an army bus speeding and steers out of the way. there is a young man waiting by the side of the road bundled up and with a scarf around his head.

‎*‎
she is burqa clad, and lets off a faint ‎petroleum smell. the male guards of the courtroom notice this, but do not suspect anything. afterall, she is a ‎woman, and here the woman’s abode is the kitchen. she can’t be expected to smell of ‎anything but benzene and smoke and perhaps the occasional whiff of the greasy meal she ‎made last night. they let her in. people are coming and going, entering and leaving the ‎dilapidated, muddy building. nobody takes note of the woman. she, however, is self-conscious and her palms are sweaty -the ‎handle of the bottle is slippery and she realizes that the fingers of her other hand are ‎wrapped unusually tightly around the lighter she is holding.

she admonishes herself for being so ‎nervous and tries to ease up. but it is hard to do. burns are painful, she knows this from her own ‎experience of minor burns in the kitchen, and from her cousin who burnt herself over a boy and ended up bedridden for months and hated even more than before. but she is determined. “not another day with him” she whispers repeatedly. ‎she has heard people say that the court won’t approve of her divorce -her divorce-‎‎ from her husband. the man must agree -it is his prerogative.

your honor ‎enters pompously, the valet announces, all stand up from the old, expensive mahogany chairs of the court, and the courtroom falls silent. your honor, the presiding judge, is obscenely obese. ‎his white wig is too small for his head -it sits like a jewish skullcap atop his massive ‎head. your honor sits down and moves your honor’s ass around the uncomfortable wooden chair for it to settle in ‎perfectly snug. loose flesh protrudes from amid the wooden bars of the chair and your honor is finally comfortable. he ‎puts on his glasses and suddenly looks up.‎
‎”are you CRAZY woman?”‎
the young girl is ablaze in front of your honor, twisting violently and screaming with the agony of a shot gazelle.‎

*
he storms out of the the room and slams the door. the old wooden door springs back and hurts his ankle. his father yells angry words after him. he is red with anger and shame and picks his way across the vines to the stream. he settles under the pomogranate trees and splashes water on his face. he takes out his wallet and looks at her picture. again that annoying little thought enters his mind that her mascara might be a bit overdone. but oh god, she is so beautiful. and in his cousin’s wedding she simply looked divine. they had stolen looks at each other and he had felt what it feels like to be a man when, conscious of her looks, he had fired off his cousin’s klashnikov several times in the air. tak tak tak tkkkkkkkka. the water keeps flowing and as he remembers an old pashto landay, he begins to hum it.

he hears footsteps drawing near. a big group of men are coming. he quickly hides the photo and gets up. it’s the man in the black turban who never speaks, and his group of men. some of these he knows -and knows well. his cousin, for example, who is proudly slinging the klashnikov he had lent him to fire in his wedding. their eyes meet, and he feels inferior. he has always felt inferior to his bully of a cousin. that guy is never shy, and he is among the charismatic black-turban’s closest men. now, too, he teasingly looks at him and begins: “so… have you made your mind yet sweatheart?” god! he wishes he could punch the teeth out of his mouth. instead, he just slaps the dust from his clothes and begins to mumble. this is simply not the right time for his cousin’s grand ideas and eulogies for those dead in the way of god. he would rather be dead in the way of her. black turban interrupts his thoughts -by extending his hand, pressing his, and looking a most genuine look into his eyes. there is such sincerity in those large, dark eyes that no words can deliver. this man, he thinks, knows love. he knows life. he is sympathetic and perhaps even knows failure in love. without ever knowing him, he knows his pain. his cousin begins to taunt him again, but the man in black turban lifts up his left hand, and his cousin shuts up.

the next time black turban presses his hand and gives him that genuine look, he is no more the young and shy boy under the pomogranate trees by the stream. he is a broken man. after she sat herself on fire, his fate was sealed too. he had heard that in protest over her father’s arrangement to marry her off with the same man who had married her cousin, one night, after everyone was asleep, she went to the kitchen, doused herself in kerosene, and lit a single stick of match. her cousin had told her that though she loved her ever since they had been little children and played panjaq in the dust together, she would hate her for the rest of her life and could not live with her under the same roof and sharing the same man. she felt the same -and anyways, her cousin told horror stories about her husband.

for the last time he shakes hands with everyone, except for his cousin who still has that smug look in his eyes, and starts off. two months later, on a cold winter morning, he takes one last look at her picture, by now a pale shade of its former self. with time, though, the mascara has worn off and is now just perfect. he throws it into the bukhari -let it burn as she had burnt, and with it, all that he had ever cared for. he wants to cry, for his home, for her, for his stupid old father who never understood, for the pomogranate trees and the stream, but he remembers black turban and stops himself. god he hates and respects the black turbans so much -how do some men get to be so larger than life without ever jeopardizing their lives? his sleep-deprived mind is too messy for such thoughts right now, he must focus, he is on a mission. he goes to the promised place.

now, he is standing by the taimani road with a scarf wrapped around his head. he sees the target approaching fast, and then he sees a red corolla getting out of the way, coming towards his side of the road. he sees the man behind the wheel in a striped tie and begins to hesitate, and then he remembers black turban again.

THE END.

*

okay. let me explain. a confluence of events gave rise to this post.
just before i left home this morning, a colleague called and said that there had been a suicide attack on an army bus near taimani, a section of kabul. some civilians had been injured. the way i did not give this news any second thoughts and went right back to struggling with my french cuffs gave me a pause, and made me think how banal evil and violence can become, and how the shock-effect of these events wear off as one lives in the midst of it. later, when i asked the driver about it, he shrugged casually and said “it was just an explosion and it’s finished” -something that reflects the outlook of most people in this city on explosions that take the lives of ordinary people. of course serena bombing was a whole different affair: “Foreigners in Kabul still shaken”.
then i saw the news about a young woman of 25 who burnt herself in a courtroom in laghman province, because the court had apparently not allowed her a divorce.
lastly, when i checked the comments on previous posts, i saw that wolf club chronicler is finally back (hence the literary/fictional tone -he knows what i mean). so i had to sit and let this flow out of me.
it is, as i hope the reader realizes, a mostly fictional piece written in “stream of consciousness” style. the characters are all fictional. and yet those characters stand in for real life people in real life situations, whose lives are affected by black turbans and white wigs on a daily basis. to those this piece is dedicated, with a hope that it puts a human face on the statistics: the woman who sat herself on fire, the young man whose biggest disappointment in life has nothing to do with the promised 72 virgins, and those who will not return home because they ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. all these, and others like the charming arab in a black turban, have substitutes in real life. i am not so sure about your honor in white wigs though. even i would admit that’s a bit surreal for a courtroom in laghman.

*
originally written for and cross-posted at ‘hamesha-the vignettes’, filed under “dreamscapes”, “madness”, “stream of consciousness”, and “melancholia”.

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Afghanistan Study Group Report

January 31, 2008

Since just about everybody concerned about matters Afghanistan-related has by now heard of the Afghanistan Study Group Report and its ominous “failed state” and “forgotten war” forebodings, and is scouring the internet for the report PDF file, here it is:

Afghanistan Study Group

The report is in reality a compilation of three studies commissioned by the Afghanistan Study Group (itself modeled on the Iraq Study Group) headed by a high-powered duo (former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and retired General James Jones) and backed by a number of illustrous DC think-tanks (CSIS and the Atlantic Council among them).

No promises, but I may do a post about the report contents and recommendations once I have gone through it myself.


The Case of Perwiz Kambakhsh and Afghanistan’s Ongoing Culture Wars

January 30, 2008

There has been another very disturbing development in the case of Parwiz Kambakhsh, the young Afghan student of journalism who has been sentenced to death by a primary court in Northern Afghanistan for the crime of propagating “blasphemous” literature: the upper house of Afghanistan’s parliament has just delcared its decision to uphold the death sentence. The case will continue on its way through the labyrinth of more courts and legislative bodies, until one of these days it finally finds itself on the president’s desk. Most likely, every court along the way will try their best not to be seen as the one that finally overturned the decision, and hence somehow supported Kambakhsh’s anti-Islamic stance.

By now the justice system here has become myopically focused on the vitriolic content of the distributed literature that was written years ago by an Iranian dissident writer and was put on the internet -it was not even written by Kambakhsh, who is himself a student and an aspiring journalist. Apparently other considerations, such as the very constitutionality of the decision to even try somebody for their opinion is out the window. Afghanistan’s constitution, which was really a craft of compromise when it was agreed upon, makes half-hearted nods both to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and at the same time to a vague and amorphouse category of Islamic principles and values. Now, one of these would have Perwiz Kambakhsh killed, and the other would respect his right to free thought and expression. And this is not even the first of it -soon after the constitution was ratified two journalists were dragged to the courts on similarly drummed up charges of blaspheming and insulting Islam -and it is bound to be not the last of them; unless of course journalists learn their lessons and define their own boundaries of what is allowed and what not, i.e. self-censorship. (Then it will be the turn for bloggers who have been rash enough to abandon anonymity in an environment like this. Maybe some people are already talking about learning them computer heads a good lesson as well -there is already the internet link in Kambakhsh’s case.)

But really, the equivocality of the constitution and the daily barrage on the media and the journalists is symptomatic of a more fundamental fact of the Afghan society: there is an ongoing culture war in Afghanistan. This is the same non-ending culture war that first reached tipping point in 1912 and became a warm war (the spark then was the lovely Queen Suraya’s bare arms in a western dress, and pictures of young Afghan girls in skirts and hats studying abroad in Turkey.) The same ongoing culture war has influenced the course of Afghan political history over the last century. Kambakhsh and other journalists are all victims of this war. In reality, everyone, including those who vye for his blood, know deep down that his transgressions are not grave enough to warrant the death penalty. But what these people also know is that there is more at stake than merely the neck of one or two young journalist (especially that they do not enjoy the same immunities that many other journalists in Afghanistan do, i.e. back-up of their embassies, etc.) So in effect these people are telling the likes of Perwiz Kambakhsh:
“Sorry pal, we know it is a bit extreme to put the hangman’s noose around your neck (figure of speech, in actuality we would prefer for you to be stoned to death) for this – distributing stuff that you did not write and may not even fully endorse, or even understand. You did not even publish it, and it is not proven that you held secret group meetings to proselytize and discuss it. And we are not particularly opposed to Will Durant -whose book is a key incriminating evidence in your case- either. But times are tough and we are in a war. Your death is a small price to be paid for what this will teach others. Next thing and we might even allow the elected MP Malalay Joya back into the parliament, and allow Tolo TV to air Shakira concerts. Now that would be a slippery slope we cannot allow this nation to go down, wouldn’t it? So we hope you will try to understand. And if you don’t, well, too bad.”

For some of these people, it is even a win-win situation whether Kambakhsh dies or lives. If he dies, well, lesson learnt, victory achieved, Islam saved, and journalists harnessed for good. If he lives, it will likely be the president who pardons him- the sentence will likely be upheld in a landslide vote in the lower house, and the supreme court’s only concern would be whether the sentence is harsh enough. Unless and until his legal advisors find a loophole (and one that is acceptible to the clergy too) on the grounds of which they can send the case back down, the president is facing a serious headache. He is damned if he signs off on the death sentence of a young journalist, and he is damned if he does not. In Afghanistan we call that being sandwiched between the two stones of a mill – or a rock and a hard place.


Of poppies and poverties ii

January 29, 2008

One of the talk shows on Tolo TV last night featured an in-depth discussion on counter ‎narcotics with a senior advisor of the ministry of counter narcotics (MCN). The ‎discussion partly touched on the debate that has been raging in some corners of the web ‎and here on this blog (although here it has been less than raging; it has actually been a ‎one-person shouting fest) –that is, the link between poppy and poverty. ‎

The senior advisor made an important distinction that I was glad to hear and I would be ‎remiss to not report, because it is in part an invitation to moderation on a topic that is ‎becoming increasingly ideological and polarized -polarized between those on the one ‎hand who believe that there is a direct and clear two-way lane between poppy cultivation ‎and poverty, and those on the other hand who tend to dissociate the two. ‎

And the distinction that the MCN official made was this: that yes, there are those farmers ‎who are driven to poppy cultivation primarily because of poverty, and because in the ‎absence of any off-farm income opportunities and small land-holding, the only rational, ‎economic choice that they can make is to get the most bank for the buck and grow poppy ‎on their meager one or two jeribs. This is the extent to which the link between poppy and ‎poverty holds. ‎
But this is not the whole story –no sir, not nearly. ‎
There are also those, the MCN official stated, that own vast tracts of land and are well to ‎do, and would be still well off if they grew all of those fields cotton or wheat, but still ‎grow poppy. These are the greedy ones –the ones that you can fly over their fields in a ‎helicopter, the MCN official said, and for as far as the eye can see it is a sea of pink ‎poppy flowers and slit poppy pods. These are the ones that can actually buy 160 ‎Sarachas. These are the ones whose aide and support to the Taliban is substantial, and ‎who live in a symbiotic relationship with the insurgency. ‎

These are the ones for whom I can’t stand anyone shed any tears on account of their ‎destituteness and their poverty. And I would argue that these are the ones who are ‎responsible for the bulk of that 92% heroin that Afghanistan contributes to the world ‎market. Here the link is not between poppy and poverty. Rather it is between greed, ‎poppy, terrorism, and the Taliban –and eventually Afghanistan’s downfall. ‎

And as long as there are these kinds of mega-poppy-farmers on the one hand, and ‎evidence of widespread poverty amid helpless farmers across Afghanistan (whether they ‎grow poppy or wheat or rice or barley in their lowly few hectares), to insist that poppy is ‎a direct outcome of only poverty is simply disingenuous and misleading, and it does not ‎help Afghanistan. ‎


Of poppies and poverties

January 26, 2008

There seems to be a flurry of exchanges and posts and calls ahead of the next JCMB meeting in Tokyo (with counter-narcotics dominating the agenda) to prove that the ‎poor farmers in Hilmand are driven to poppy cultivation by poverty, and those who have ‎it so well in the north, center and elsewhere don’t really have to grow poppy. Case in point, the latest posts on ICGA Blog by the political scientist and ‘super-academic’ Barnett R. Rubin. The cynic in me always manages to be alarmed by such heightened activity just as many a predator in the wild would by sudden movements. So here it goes…

First, all this talk about poverty and poppy just makes me think of ‎a common anecdote in the south that someone recently related to me that goes something ‎like this: Upon being asked how much he earned from his opium crops the previous year, ‎an illiterate Hilmand farmer said, after a long pause: “I dunno the rest of it but I know ‎that I bought 160 Sarachas among other things…” (Saracha is the name in Afghanistan of ‎a station-wagon like vehicle commonly used for passenger transport and as taxicab)

Now ‎this may well be an exaggerated number, not least because who in the world needs 160 ‎vehicles unless they want to open a full fleet limousine service for the drug barons of the south, but it goes to show the extent in the popular imagination of the wealth associated ‎with narcotics. And not to say that all farmers have an equal access to that wealth, in fact ‎I agree that the farmers get the smallest of the dividends from opium cultivation, but the ‎externalities from opium cultivation, and the ripple effects and the multiplier effects (on ‎consumption, for instance) of the opium wealth cannot but have an impact on the overall ‎welfare of the residents of Hilmand.

I agree with Mr. Rubin that UNODC is wrong if it ‎says that poverty does not have anything to do with poppy cultivation – but UNODC has ‎never said such a thing. In fact, what they have said could be interpreted more closely to ‎mean that poverty is no more primarily associated with poppy cultivation in Hilmand –‎the province that produces more drugs than the rest of the world put together, including ‎all of Afghanistan’s provinces with the exception of Hilmand itself- and that is an ‎assertion that I am comfortable with, especially if it is backed up with evidence from the ‎field and research, as UNODC claims it to be. Of course nobody, not Mr. Rubin, not the ‎UNODC is claiming that poverty is the only driver of opium cultivation, and neither is anyone saying that poverty is not a factor in poppy cultivation at all. I think nobody can make such over-‎generalized assertions with certainty and authority about any social and economic ‎phenomenon anywhere, not least in the muddle and shady enterprise that is the poppy ‎world of Afghanistan. ‎

By the way, none of this is to support eradication-only policies or to negate the importance of ‎building alternative livelihoods in order to wean farmers in the south off opium. It is just another ‎voice calling for moderation on both sides, on part of those who have taken it upon ‎themselves to defend the honest, poor, and never greedy poppy farmers of Hilmand (and ‎where does this motto come from: “greed is good” and that it is part of the human nature, ‎and that those idiot Marxists failed because they neglected this simple fact of the human nature?), and those on the ‎other side who are allegedly insisting that poppy and poverty are not related at all.

The danger in trying to associate poppy primarily with poverty in the south is to give the wrong impression that because poppy cultivation is largely a southern problem, then by logical inference poverty must also be a major problem only in the south, unlike those other provinces that are relatively or completely poppy free, and hence better off. That would have tragic policy implications in a land already mired by social justice issues and with just about everybody crying out foul over the way aid money and development budget is allocated by provinces.

By the same token, of course it would be wrong to completely dissociate poppy from poverty -that would in effect turn on its head the difficultly-achieved consensus on the importance of alternative livelihoods.

Let’s just say that poppy and poverty and politics are somehow linked together and that the Raison d’être of this sinister ménage à trois has to do with more than the simple fact they all share the beginning two letters of their names in the English language -and leave it at that. I for the life of me can’t seem to get my head around the many nuances of it, or the fact that the problem that everyone is trying to address seems to be growing exponentially as the years go by, and as more money is spent on putting an end to it.

There ‎you have it, my lowly two cents added to the billion dollar argument about a multi-billion ‎dollar industry.


This is Farshid

January 22, 2008

When I sat to write this last night, just home from a quick trip to the bazaar, I was not ‎planning to put it on Safrang. Its form and content are out of step with Safrang –self-serious, ‎presumptuous political bliggity bloggery, pseudo-intellectual scholarship, and polemical pamphleteering. I wanted to put it ‎on my other blog –more heart and hedonism stuff. Now that I am done with it, I think I ‎will put it here, a belated second episode in the series: ‎
From Afghanistan with Love.

————————————

Farshid

Meet Farshid. ‎

Farshid is nine years old. Maybe ten, or even eight –hard to tell anyone’s age here. He is ‎in the second grade. Of course schools in Kabul are out in the winter, so Farshid spends ‎most of his time outdoors, working. ‎

Farshid is cold –Very cold. Right now, he is standing near a fish-seller’s stall –keeping ‎warm in the heat of the gas stove. The water in the stream in front of the shop is frozen ‎solid. Last night they announced the highest and lowest temperatures for Kabul on the ‎TV. The lowest would be -10 ºC tonight. Weathermen being liars everywhere, I feel it is well ‎past that already.‎

Farshid’s voice shakes when he answers me. His little body, wrapped in old and torn ‎layers scavenged from Lilami shakes alongside. I get the impression that speaking is a ‎labor –it is too cold, and any amount of energy and warm breathe is precious. The boy ‎next to him in earmuffs and a hoodie does most of the talking. ‎

This boy tells me: “Farshid has been told to come home tonight with a hundred ‎Afghanis” –two dollars. How much has Farshid worked so far? “30 Afghanis.” It is ‎‎6:00pm now –already dark. And did I say it was cold? ‎

How did Farshid earn this money, and how is he planning to make another 70? Farshid ‎produces a dirty rag from his right pocket, and the boy next to him supplies the words: ‎‎“Motar Safi Mikona.” The word choice is important –he did not say “washing” cars, or ‎‎“Motar Mishoya” –but only cleaning them. It is cold, and soon as the water touches the ‎body of the car, it freezes. Farshid’s clients do not like frozen water on their windshields. ‎It creates distortions and aberrations in the glass and one cannot see the road ahead ‎clearly. Farshid, of course, would be glad to wash the cars should his clients please –for ‎him, it is part of the job. No matter what little games the water and the cold will play with ‎his tiny, chapped hands. ‎

What does Farshid want to become when he finishes school bakhair? I regret having ‎asked the question the moment it leaves my lips. This is a cruel question. There is no ‎finishing school, and there is no bakhair. The dignified, no-nonsense look in Farshid’s ‎eyes answers me, and it is telling me: “You may delude yourself pal, but I am not going ‎to. I am more worried about finishing the day’s work and going home –bakhair.” ‎

I think to myself: come on, it isn’t my fault I asked a senseless question. This little boy is ‎making me uncomfortable. I regret having come to this fish stall today. I like my ‎secluded life and do not even have to be in these situations. My appetite is gone. I hate ‎the cold. I am ashamed of my coat. I am ashamed of my car. I am ashamed of my fancy ‎camera –and the fact that I have brought it out with me. What was I thinking? I am ‎uncomfortable and ashamed and cannot bear the silence that somehow has developed and ‎become unbearably awkward and inconvenient for me over the past five minutes I have ‎been listening to Farshid’s story. I am speaking just to kill time, to engage him, to fill the ‎air -until my fish is done and I get the hell out of here. ‎

Again, just to kill time, I ask Farshid another senseless question. (And what, beg tell, ‎would be a more sensible question? Does he like the snow? His thoughts on the recent Serena bombing? Does he prefer Arsenal or ‎Man United? Grape soda or plain old Coke? Those marks around his eyes –what ‎precisely are those? Is global warming on his list of concerns for the world? Or, as many ‎Khareji in Kabul would itch to ask (just before engaging in their self-soothing “random ‎act of kindness” stuff procured via two crisp dollar bills) –does Farshid like kite-flying, ‎kite-running –the whole kite enterprise? His views on the progress of the mission in ‎Afghanistan? What about his opinions on the foreign troops’ presence in his country? Did ‎Farshid eat today?) ‎

Instead, my question is: where does he live? It’s a common enough question in a society ‎where identity is closely interwoven with geography. The boy standing next to Farshid ‎seems to have fallen comfortably into his spokesperson’s role, because he again ‎volunteers the answer. He is himself mildly intrigued at the interest this naïve stranger ‎has taken in Farshid, but then so many naïve and disgustingly sympathetic Afghans and ‎Kharejis do the same, so, no big deal. He answers: “Darul Aman.” “Which part?” I ‎press on. I know the area well -its a good 15 minutes drive from here. I work near it, and I have gone there several times to ‎photograph the ruins of the palace nearby.‎
‎ ‎
This time Farshid takes a jab, just so briefly: “Qasr.”
He lives in the palace! ‎

But for the circumstances I would have been amused by the absurdity. Farshid and his ‎family –his mother, his brother Jamshid, and I don’t know how many other people- live ‎in that dilapidated structure facing the ruins of the grand old palace. The one with red and ‎blue curtains for windowpanes and with a façade pockmarked with bullet holes. I would ‎love to ask more senseless questions. My voyeurism is not quenched yet –this poverty, ‎this misery is so obscene I cannot peel my eyes away. It is so pungent, so delicious, so ‎real life, so real time. I am already thinking out a blog post in my head. And I feel my ‎heart tightening, giving me that familiar old urge to cry, and at the same time, that other familiar old urge ‎to harden and to resist the first urge. ‎
What do they burn for heating fuel? I did not take a shower today because it was too cold, ‎when did Farshid wash last? He did not mention his father, what about him? And please ‎oh please: let it be Chelsea FC. ‎

But my fish is done. The man spices it generously, wraps it in an Urdu language ‎newspaper, counts the money with his oily hands, and apologizes for having taken too long. He ‎sees me lingering, glances at Farshid, coughs into his fist, and says: “yea farshid’s mum ‎hussaid he cant cumhome ‘nless he earns hisself a hundredAfghanis tonight.” ‎
Meanwhile, Farshid continues to shiver, and is silently taking all of this in –being ‎reminded of his duty, his looming deadline. The man goes on: “boy gohome boy you ‎won’tmake it to midnight in thiscold boy justgohome boy youwill freezetodeath boy did I ‎giveyourchange sir?”‎
‎ ‎
Farshid starts crossing the road reluctantly and I drive away with the uncomfortable ‎feeling that the man’s grave and hurried premonition might come true one of these dreary ‎cold nights. And no, you did not give me my change. I was waiting for it to give some money to Farshid to go home for the night. I look around, but Farshid is gone, and across the street in front of the shops with their iron shutters closed for the night and their lights out, children of Farshid’s age and height are playing with marbles. Gods of winter and cold and snow, show some mercy on the street children ‎of Kabul.‎