I was sitting outside alone on a rickety table when Zahir sat beside me and lit a smoke. I suppose it were late afternoon but it had felt that way for several hours already
. I don’t recall how our discussion began but the topic was one which we often seem to revisit. We went back and forth on stories of our difference in culture for quite some time. After several laughs and a few cups of green tea later, he began explaining what growing up in Eastern Afghanistan was like for him. As I listened to the accounts unfold, the only response I could gather up and send back to him was a rather unappealing look on my face of utter disbelief. To read words without hearing the suitable tone in which they've been spoken in, or without feeling the compelling conviction in a man's eyes, one simply cannot be moved the same (I know), but of all the inconceivable stories he shared, one in particular for me will never go unforgotten. At only five or six years old, Zahir became a bystander to a young man being tied behind a pickup truck and brutally dragged along the highway to his death. He said that he remembers thinking afterwards that it would be all over the news and people would never stop talking about it, but instead it never even made the news and was rarely ever mentioned again by anyone. That reaction by others was the earliest recollection he said of realizing that life was far different than he had thought it to be, and although that may be a lesson we all have to learn one day, for it to come in such a cruel manner at such a young and vulnerable age, what but total wonder and this look upon my face can I declare in return?
So among those who behold an everlasting chronicle of similar tales, though we may all live our lives at least slightly beset by the ironies and revelations that we have endured thus far, to see (and feel) again a resiliency like this capable of redefining the human spirit is for me, once more, a rightful way to live another day - because as for that which may ever challenge to distort my sense of scale, the greatest courage and protection that sustain within come only from the depths of my heart, and are further reinforced by the exposure, influence, and understanding of better men.
So who am I tomorrow if I couldn't just listen today?
The clouds ill-tinted with ribbons of gray but threatening storms to no avail, and so it were, with weather so flawlessly indifferent there was no cause for complaint. This was a temperature of seldom accuracy, an air of nothingness, and perhaps a balance of all conditions gone on reprieve. This was that time where the sticks of chalk and charcoal were meant to portray visions upon another fair white canvas. It was like an invitation (almost a provocation) to play a grand piano in a vacant cathedral, or something alike. In such a grave silence, with it's sense of fog on an otherwise clear enough day, hearts and minds take like magnetics to any subtle sway, and so again, ready were mine.