Yes, I Am Mad
The die is cast. The impossible has happened. My nightmare is real. I have navigated through some pretty turbulent airs in my life and been through some tough situations. Some life-threatening as well. This event is unique, however, and no matter where I turn and what rationale I try to use to ease my troubles; I’ve hit a brick wall – the solutions are elusive. To me.
What had initially attracted me to Afghanistan was the sheer adventure the country offered. It is at the doorsteps of the Orient. It had offered me a different world, so different from mine, or others I had visited, and thus I was instantly fascinated. Although most Afghans are instantly friendly and religiously hospitable, it is a harsh country. Both in rural landscape and cruelty steeped in misguided and useless religious dogma. Unforgiving, especially to those who choose to break the rules, especially for women.
It is this cruelty towards the fairer sex, the minorities, and their absolute and blatant abuse by a dominant majority that made me return to Afghanistan 41 times. Piecemeal and painfully, with the help of donors and my colleagues, Araam were able to construct 24 schools providing quality education of about 12,000 children who struggled to read and write under the elements of an open sky, provide free daily medical care and medicines to 300 dirt-poor people who had never before met a medical doctor, vaccinate thousands of preventable disease-vulnerable children, provide complete quality life to 150 orphans, construct modern 2-bedroom homes for over 1,400 homeless widows, make potable water accessible to over 300,000 people, mostly children and women, trudging for miles for a pail of water in bone-chilling temperature. Araam was there to provide comfort, solace, and material support to thousands of innocent victims as a result of violence. I could finally look back and sigh with satisfaction and thank Allah for these bounties.
All of this is now gone in a matter of about 10 days. Poof. Just like that. Gone. Our pain and efforts overran by bandits who were/are the signatories of the violence and atrocities Araam were trying to mitigate. Our modern medical clinics in faraway remote areas lie empty, the sick untreated, our orphans, some who have known no other home except the orphanage safehouse since mere infants, scattered and vulnerable, our model English institute school, an Afghanistan seal of pride for my colleagues and me, probably the best school in Kabul, now being told what-to and how-to by a bunch of thugs who probably can’t even begin to learn how to brush their teeth. These crooks who have the blood of innocent humans, of unborn babies still in the wombs of their mothers even, tainting their hands.
Yes, I am mad. I am livid. Incensed. Humiliated. I can’t breathe when I think of what has happened. Araam toiled and invested in so much for the Afghan people on some basic common-sense assumptions. Sure, there are no guarantees in life and turds happen. But as an American, with the best-global, best-trained, best-equipped, and unequaled-in-resources army looking after me and my interests, I had every reason to believe we could kick any ragtag army’s butt silly.
I am mad at us, Americans, I am mad at NATO, and all the armies that folded and scrambled out of Kabul when the hoodlums appeared at the doorsteps. Maybe I am naive at political maneuverings and far removed from playing sovereign games (and pray I remain that way) but what transpired was disgraceful and mindboggling, devoid of rationality. To have ‘liberated’ a country, occupied it for twenty years, armed and equipped a once ragtag army, spent trillions on keeping it safe and functioning, and then suddenly folding in a couple of weeks is abominable.
I don’t know or care about the reasons behind the motive of abandoning Afghanistan, that is none of my business; I am hardly qualified to opine on these matters. The US administration must have done it for a reason, compelling or otherwise. A guarded and planned retreat with safeguards for the likes of us and the local Afghans who sacrificed so much, their very safety and lives even, is what a great nation is supposed to do. It’s not rocket science. However, the numbingly senseless way and the haste with which it was done is flabbergasting. By none other than my country, the USA; there is no excuse for this. I am spectacularly disappointed. Really. It’s very painful losing to an adversary; it hurts so bad. But to be beaten by mere mascara-eyed thugs who can’t measure the lengths of their pajamas is a pain of another measure.
I Give Up!
Mullah Mchungu calls me late yesterday when I am about to turn in. It’s been a long and emotional day. The images from an early morning visit to Muhimbili Hospital to visit infants with hydrocephalus and spina bifida have haunted me all day. I accompanied a local humanitarian lady who works tirelessly to find donors for poor kids suffering from enlarged heads due to fluid retention. The pediatric ward has a number of cases, poor peasants from rural Tanzania referred to this hospital. These are the lucky ones, their cases found sponsors and they will get a chance to live an almost normal, albeit a challenging life. There are hundreds of others who can’t afford the US$100 co-payment required for the simple surgery. Araam donors will help insha’Allah, pledging to support 100 children live out their remaining lives in relative comfort.
Back to the cranky Mullah.
Hey Kisukaali, did you listen to the local maulana recite majlis on the death commemoration of Imam Sajjad (a)?
Yes, I respond instantly, eagerly. Imam Sajjad (a) is my favorite Imam and I would not miss paying my respects to him unless death comes calling.
And? He asks.
And what, Mullah? I respond testily, exasperated by the question.
Don’t you talk condescendingly at me, young man. Show some respect. I am your senior. Ghadhero saalo.
I want to retort equally rudely but I bite my tongue. The dude is my senior and he has mitigated his insolence by calling me, a 64-year-old man, young. I let it go.
I thought you are different, Kisukaali, but no. You are exactly like the rest of them, taking in whatever these mullahs throw at you with wah-wahs and dramatic naaras. Hook, line, and sinker. Pathetic.
I wreak my brains, trying to recall what the guy from the mimbar said that has riled up this old cow. I thought the lecture was normal. Nothing dramatic that’ll change me for sure but an acceptable run-of-the-mill lecture nevertheless. Since I don’t follow what the Mullah is saying, I keep quiet, hoping he’ll hang up.
Kisukaali, according to the Maulana, a Prophet related, not sure if it was Musa (a) or Ibraheem (a), that his supplication to Allah (s) was not accepted for 40 years. Bah! So, we less-holly mortals should not be impatient and be prepared to wait even longer. Now answer me, logically, not with your heart, how loony is this hadeeth? If I am to wait 40 years or longer for my dua to be answered and I am now nearly eighty, what are my options? Take it further. Suppose you want to take on another wife and you earnestly make dua for one. You’ll have to live to be over 100 before you’re granted one, no? But in case you do and Allah answers your dua, what does this good Maulana suggest you do with her? Capisce, Kisukaali?
I give up! I’m too tired to answer him. I politely bid the Mullah goodnight. He chuckles his tongue rudely, calls me a coward for not engaging him in the debate, and hangs up. May Allah (s) guide us all.
The views and opinions expressed in this Blog are entirely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Araam.