Trip Start Nov 01, 2008
23Trip End Ongoing
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Sometime later, making their way beyond the gates, I watch the Afghans sauntering through the yard dressed in customary garbs, each bearing a plastic bag filled with a fresh contribution to an afternoon meal – bread, beans, rice, chicken, and beef. The emphatic tenor of Pashtun greetings strolling by sends me into a thoughtless feral smile. It's (right) then when I begin to fabricate renderings in my mind, illusions of where they just came from, yet I know that nothing my meager capacities can evoke, no matter how wild, will ever descend near the truth.
I picture them sitting with their families over tea in the early hours, when it’s warm in the home but never warm enough – with a background of candlelight flickering against a fractured bare mortar wall, and maybe a fire in the stove. I envision the children sleepy-eyed and tired, still holding blankets and looking up at their fathers, one more prayer, and one last goodbye - altogether relishing in the sacred morning without forgetting what they got - embracing against their bones what is mortal, and then they go on. I sense the angst in their journey here, maneuvering on motorbikes (devoid of streetlight) down another nameless corridor - a crucial tactic meant to elude and avert inquiring eyes. Gone under the irritable disposition of the clouds above, accelerators press on swiftly, dividing (like waves) through the pastures of slumbering crops, an effort to gain an advance on the floods that will come. Suddenly the repetitive gasps of an engine faintly break as onward down the single lane, an assembly of idle vehicles and signaling arms are waiting. Upon arrival, a closer look unveils metal fragments scattered along the fringe of another late night explosion. Three men shoulder automatic rifles while others are shouting, and this is no place of order. So with minds stuck in traffic, but hearts fixed on living, again, they just go on.
When I come back down, wiping away the facade of ineffective speculation, I concede instead to what I know for certain. When my own comprehensions fail, what’s walking in front of me now is undeniably gripping.
In the derelict backwaters of broken hope, when an unknown density conceals what is flowering beneath - it’s there, then (and here) in this moment, where those smiles bid a collective sound so plain and clear of another relevance calling.