Suicide Pax: Afghanistan, too! (a fantasy in four-part disharmony)
continued from previous…
There’s that familiar sound, of civilization. I pull out my cell-phone and look at the number, THE number, the same number that I remember oh so well—my wife. Should I answer? I feel the hard asphalt beneath my body, the blood seeping out all around. RRRrrrinnnggg. What the Hell…
“I’m okay,” I lie. “How are you?”
“Very good, thank you.”
“Working hard or hardly working?”
“Yes, working hard.” Pregnant pause. “Where are you now, Afghanistan? Is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine,” I say, suppressing a little groan. I look at the blood pooling up. I need to hurry. “I may not be back for a while, though. I have some work to do here.”
“Okay, no problem. You come home when you’re ready.” I smile. That’s Tang. She’s far from perfect, but she’s never been possessive, at least not with time and space. That’s always been the saving grace of a rather bumpy relationship. She lets me travel. And now I’m about to take the Big Trip, the Final Journey, the Last Goodbye.
“Better go now. Those long-distance phone calls are expensive. Goodbye.” I force myself to say the words, maybe for the last time, tears welling up, clouding my vision.
“Okay, see you later,” she says. I smile.
The blood is getting deep. I never would’ve believed that my body could hold so much, at least not while maintaining consciousness. Ah, but that’s the catch: I’m fading fast. I look up. They’re all standing there, looking down at me—the Muslim Fundamentalists, the Christian Americans, the Capitalists and the Communists. I could swear that they’re shaking hands. Or maybe they’re exchanging bizniz cards. They’re not killing each other; that’s for sure. And they’re not killing me, either. They’ve already done that.
And yet here I still am, witness to my own death. It’s a strange feeling, like the old ‘Get Smart’ TV shows, with all the doors closing. I feel my senses start to shut down, in synchronicity with my organs. First goes feeling—bodily feeling. That makes sense, skin being such a vast organ of the body. Next goes smell, typical among old folks—how convenient! Ow! I manage a grin, but bristle at the chuckle. Everything hurts now, and yet I can’t feel a thing—strange, just numb.
Next goes hearing and then goes speech. I’m trying to make words, but they won’t come out. My mouth just sits there, moving, or, at least I think it’s moving. My vision is narrowing to a tunnel, too. It won’t be long now. They’re sharing tea. I can see that much. Maybe I did accomplish something, what with my simple act of bravado and defiance. I guess I’ll never know, because my tunnel vision is now reduced to a pin prick. Then it goes down to nothing: fade to black. This is a silly dream…
CUT!!! And then I wake up, feeling strangely refreshed. A good night’s sleep will do that for you. But that dream—that was weird! I’m forgetting it though, with every passing moment. Oh well, it’s probably for the best that way. There’s only one problem: I have no idea where I am. OMG, where am I? It’s cold; I know that. I search for a memory, any memory—Chicken Street. I remember that. That’s Kabul—right. It would be cold in March. I’m in Kabul, Afghanistan, travel and leisure destination par excellence.
It’s seen better days, God knows, but somehow it survives: Kabul, nobody’s garden city and everybody’s mother lode, home to Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Christians before Muslims, a Godless city of many Gods, and now home to Pashtuns, Persians, Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazzaras. Now I’ve come to liberate the city single-handedly and the news is not good: the Serena Hotel was bombed last night and nine were killed, this in the one place considered ‘safe’ above all others, so proof of the very opposite.
And now I realize something: these wars between the Israelites and Ishmaelites are not my wars anymore. I’m Buddhist, as I have long suspected. Why should I care if our common ancestor was called Abraham or Ibrahim in an alphabet with no vowels? Why do I care if the word for ‘kernel’ is pronounced ‘shibbolet’ or ‘sibbolet’? I only care for the grain of wheat inside that will nourish my body and sustain my soul. To absorb the aggression of all the others is the Buddhist fate–my fate.
And I realize something else, too: I’ve got to get out of here, before they close the airport. Being stuck is my worst nightmare. So I book a flight for two days from now, not to Tajikistan, as originally planned, but back down south, to Sri Lanka. In the meantime I’ll hide in plain sight. I have no choice. I’m a sitting duck inside.
When the day finally comes, the cab comes to pick me up at five in the morning. Five in the morning in Kabul is not pretty. It’s raining. And the final stretch of road to the airport is not yet open—because the airport is not yet open. Who says I’m not cautious? The taxista sits with me until it opens—nice guy.
Then I still have to walk, as the parking lot is a half mile from the waiting area, and the waiting area is a half-mile from the terminal itself—no suicide bombers allowed; nor suicide peacemakers, either. I smile. Fortunately my decision is made easier by the fact that it’s still cold in Tajikistan in April—simple. I’ll come back. I always do.