This Sunday’s (5/18/2009) LA Times carried a front-page article (link: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-deaths17-2009may17,0,4108227.story) about the Afghan Villages that were hit by a US Air raid which resulted in a number of civilian casualties. The air raid was called in when local police and American troops failed to defeat the Taliban insurgents who seemed to outnumber them. As the article pointed out, the actual account of the incident differs between whoever is reporting it but the ground reality is stark in any case: A number of innocent families, including women and children were among the people who were killed and those who survived incurred major wounds, some fatal.
I was haunted by the image that was a part of the print article (link: ttp://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-deaths-pictures,0,5189377.photogallery?index=2). The man was driven to desolation after the death of his wife and one son, so much that he was ready to give up his other son. I felt something inside my crumble away. I tried to imagine the desperation that can drive a man to give up his children, and I failed miserably. For the life of me, I couldn’t come even close to understanding what one could go through to be ready to intentionally give up their children, knowing that they may never see them again.
This morning when I came to work, I looked up the article and read it again. And I felt the same as I felt yesterday. I looked around me, I thought of what I had done since morning. 2 project meetings, reading through some emails and some documents. It seemed so disconnected with what was ringing in my head. I looked around at people’s faces and everything seemed so unreal. We fickle about having to pay 20 cents more per gallon for gas, we honk if somebody doesn’t move for 2 seconds when the traffic light turns green, we are daunted when faced with the decision whether to have one thing or other for lunch. Then there are people who are pushed to circumstances where they go through the mental process of having to give up their kids, and there are those who actually have to do it.
As I tried to find a slimmer of worth in what I was doing, I knew that what I was feeling will fade away, only to be brought back again sometime in future when something similar stirs up the emotions. I hoped that someday, for sometime in my life, however brief that may be, I will step out of the rat race and be a part of a group that helps people in situations where they can’t help themselves. I hoped that I will be strong enough to help my kids understand the vast disparateness this world is, how starkly different people’s lives are and to consider themselves fortunate to have that chance to be able understand all that – to understand human emotions, misery and corruption of minds and build a positive attitude to bring a difference to lives of other people.
The article ended with a grim note:
Meanwhile, under the scorching desert sun, traces of evidence fade away daily. The dead have been buried. And in all likelihood, the Taliban of Bala Baluk will be back.