“Bleakest Dawns” by Hanifa Darwish ’22: Hope for Kabul

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Hanifa Darwish ’22

Contributing Writer

In the core of South-Central Asia 

Beats the heart of a people 

Seventy-one percent 

Under the age of twenty-five 

Born and raised in war

I lost friends, I saw fire 

I saw homes fall apart 

But I never lost hope

I have seen many new bleak dawns 

But there was always a brink of light 

Shining at the end of the dusky nights. 

A week before Kabul fell to the Taliban, 

My friend and I explored a town

‘Manchester by the sea.’ 

We went to the ‘Singing’ beach 

For a fat three to four hours, 

We sat on a rock in front of the ocean 

Talking about the definition of “home”

I asked him if “home” meant 

The physical space or the people in it 

He turned around, with a broken voice 

He said, both. 

I stared at him in an utter awe

He continued talking about Kabul 

He took his leather wallet out of his pocket 

Handed it over to me, to smell it 

He thought that was an aroma from “home”

Seeing his wallet 

Took me to a scorching summer 

Midday in two thousand eighteen 

My sister and I were shopping for me 

My flight was in a week 

We went to our favorite vintage boutique 

I needed a piece of “home” to take with me 

What is finer than a handmade leather wallet? 

Back to Manchester, 

I showed him my wallet 

Nay, both were from 

The same relic vintage store in Kabul 

Both of us were so utterly happy 

To have found someone who recognizes  

What it feels to be away from “home” 

Continued chatting- “when I return…”  

We had no idea what was to come 

In the span of days, 

Everything would upturn. 

Five days after the Manchester venture 

I was in the train station in Hartford 

I had just read the news about the falling of Mazar 

I knew I had to plan for the worst 

I knew after the falling of Mazar, Herat, Ghazni, etc 

Taking Kabul was a facile victory to the Taliban 

Texted my friend to check on him 

With a broken heart, 

he said, 

“It is gone. Everything is over!” 

I don’t remember how I got to Princeton 

I remember a woman asking me if I was okay

But the rest is ill-lit

I have heard that when tidal waves hit, 

People watch from the shore

To see the disaster coming, 

See the horizon disappearing 

They don’t really see until it is too late 

We didn’t see the fall of Kabul coming.

Even in the train station, 

I had hope for Kabul. 

The next day, I was in Princeton

To meet a friend and my host family 

I was with them, but I was not 

That night and the nights to follow 

Were ghastly agonizing 

Kabul fell to the Taliban that night. 

Taliban and their ilk 

Inflicting pain and suffering

 Without compunction

They wreak generations of trauma 

If I told of the grotesque crimes 

Committed in the idyllic little town 

Where I grew up, 

All kindred souls would be lying on the floor 

Huddled in the fetal position 

Weeping like frightened toddlers. 

I read an article about disaster ethics 

When the unimaginable happens

What people would do 

Preparing them for bombshells 

But it is imperfect 

While it is good to plan for the worst 

You can’t really know how you will handle it 

Until you are smack dab in the middle of it, 

Under the wave, trying not to drown. 

It seems like an unending torrent 

A tsunami puzzled in circles. 

Strangely, 

Wouldn’t break-off at “home”

For some of us, 

The world is bleak and cold now

Will it be warm and broad one day? 

And include everyone under the sun? 

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