One of our drivers finally came back to work after an absence of 3 days. We have two local drivers and they rotate shifts, one called lets say Hashish (he’s always high) comes during the week and the other Purple (I’m sure that’s how sees life) comes over during the week-end.
In the Middle East, the week-end starts on Thursdays and ends on Saturdays. It can take a while to get accustomed, but somehow it starts to make sense when living in this region.
Anyways, Hashish was there on Wednesday when we were under attack and panicked believing our camp was killing – well all Afghans. Not true.
I asked him today if he went out protesting with the masses and he said, ”of course I am one of them. I was also shouting death to America!” Why am I not surprised.
He went to pray and then followed the crowds in the street causing a riot in his village.
I wondered and asked if he would help us if our van would have been stuck in one of the riots with people smashing our windows or flipping our vehicle over.
Blank, long pause.
He slowly said: “Well I wouldn’t hurt you and would tell them that you are not American, but what can I do in a crowd of 3000 angry people.”
“I know. You have gun. Shoot them?”
“No, they are my people I can’t do that.”
“Sure, but you can ask us to bring you a lunch box everyday, buy you shampoo and deodorant, expect us to bring you back presents every time we travel, but you would barely help us in a riot. Whatever.” It reminded me of last year in March when our van was involved in a minor accident and a mob surrounded our vehicle demanding blood money. I called him and passed my phone to the ring leader so he could attempt to let us go peacefully, but instead Hashish told me to give him $200 US dollars. He was no help in front of the owners of AK-47 (Kalashnikov). I sorted my own problems and gave them nothing. I didn’t have any money with me.
He continued, “ahhhh, it’s not my fault I have to listen to what the Mullah says. Can you bring me my lunch please?”
No word of a lie. I told him just for that I wouldn’t. We don’t have to, we do it out of courtesy and sympathy.
He shrugged, laughed and explained that I can’t understand how sacred the Quran is and the Americans shouldn’t have desecrated it ( he did not use that word).
I reinforced the point that it wasn’t burned because the US hates Islam or Muslims, but because information was passed to the Talibans through the Quran. Prisoners were using it for ill purposes and perhaps a mistake was made, but it was for the greater good (ish). Using their sacred book to pass information is no better than burning it.
I asked him if he knew that and he said no. He only knew they found burned pieces.
Hashish is the traditional follower who cares about what is and never asks why. There was a very long pause where I was waiting for an answer, to which he didn’t have one. I believe I got through him a little as I saw him mentally questioning his own actions. He will never admit it.
It’s exhausting to constantly drill thought processing in his mind.
Purple, as dizzy as he is sometimes he questions things. He doesn’t even like religion, but that is a story for another time.
I’m very sorry two US soldiers died over this debacle, but all of us know the enemy is inside our camps. Trust is irrelevant, living without the constant paranoia of an known Afghan drawing a blade on you is a choice one has to make.
As for me, I am a cautious fatalist.