A corner of a foreign field

There is a corner of Kabul that is forever England.

The Sherpur Cantonment Cemetery, or British Cemetery, is a rare place of tranquillity sheltered behind large wooden doors, overlooked by an Afghan graveyard on the Bibi Mahro hill above.

Its oldest residents are British soldiers from the Anglo-Afghan wars. Like the 29 members of the 67th Foot (South Hampshire Regiment), buried in a mass grave after a failed attempt to climb a hill south of Kabul on the 13th December 1879. All that really remains of them is part of their grave stone, stuck along one side of the cemetery wall with other fragments of history.

On other walls are the engraved black marble slabs commemorating the deaths of ISAF soldiers in the 21st century, long lists that tell no stories other than the staccato military details of name, rank, regiment and date.

In between are assorted ranks of other visitors who never made it home. Explorers, journalists, hippies who lost the trail, engineers and aid workers; Italians and Germans and Canadians and Polish and many another country. Their headstones chart a partial history of the country.

The cemetery is tended by an old man, Rahimullah, and his son. A newspaper clipping pinned up on a mud shed tells his story, for those of us who don’t speak enough Dari to ask him himself: his thoughts on religion and death and the time Mullah Omar dropped by and asked him why he looked after the graves of infidels.

The rich dust of those infidels has fertilised a rare green space under Rahimullah’s care. If you ever find yourself in Kabul it’s worth stopping by.

About these ads

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “A corner of a foreign field”

  1. ash Says:

    this is most intriguing. thanks for sharing it. mm

  2. Marianne Says:

    I really liked visiting the British Cemetary when I lived in Qala-e-Fatullah, a space to stroll in without feeling like a spectacle. Up the hill to the fortress in Qula-la-Pushta is nice as well. Great views but watch out for the dogs.

  3. Grand Trunk Road » Sherpur Cantonment Cemetery in Kabul Says:

    [...] via Harry Rud, a very interesting blog by a British aid worker in Afghanistan. Its oldest residents are British soldiers from the Anglo-Afghan wars. Like the 29 members of the 67th Foot (South Hampshire Regiment), buried in a mass grave after a failed attempt to climb a hill south of Kabul on the 13th December 1879. All that really remains of them is part of their grave stone, stuck along one side of the cemetery wall with other fragments of history. On other walls are the engraved black marble slabs commemorating the deaths of ISAF soldiers in the 21st century, long lists that tell no stories other than the staccato military details of name, rank, regiment and date. [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: