Hanifa Darwish ’22
In the core of South-Central Asia
Beats the heart of a people
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,
“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
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.
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?