Tales from the Taliban times

Sitting outside in the shade after work one day this week, a colleague asked if I’d like to hear a story of his from the Taliban times.

He told me several that evening, such as the time he was working as a taxi driver in Kabul when a passenger informed on him at a checkpoint for having a music cassette in his car. He was taken off, held for several days and badly beaten.

Such accounts, often worse than that, are common place. The live-stories of so many people I speak to are beyond my ken.

I tend not to ask people directly unless I know them well; unwilling to pry and afraid of what I might be told.

When we do get talking, these stories are often told matter of factly, almost mundanely, or with a wry smile and an almost embarrassed laugh. Offered up like postcards from the past.

It was the fact that this particular man actually asked me if I wanted to hear that got me thinking. More than just being polite or wary of my tired frown, he seemed conscious of a certain power to these narratives and the politics, for want of a better word, of telling them.

I’ve deleted paragraphs several times over now trying to think this thing through.

There’s a whole load of psycho-social literature on all this, much of it related to post-traumatic stress disorder, but I don’t know what it says. And half of it is probably ethno-centric cobblers anyway. What I’ve been asking myself is what it means to tell outsiders, who will struggle to ever really comprehend, about the personal traumas one has suffered under a regime the very name of which holds so much potency.

But trying to analyse all this is beyond me right now, which makes this post a bit pointless, so apologies for that. I often write as a way of getting my thoughts in order but it obviously hasn’t worked out this time. Still, it’s one way of passing an evening.

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2 Responses to “Tales from the Taliban times”

  1. ash Says:

    I think that you’re writing as a way to think through what you’re observing and hearing is a fine idea.

    As for what can be said about outsiders never really knowing or understaning the intesity of such circumstances, you’re right. The most a person can do is listen and when they feel so compelled, assist where they can…something you are doing and have done.

  2. islandbridget Says:

    hmmm…….but then, many of us in the west seem to live lives which are thankfully removed from real trauma. When we see people suffer, we look in on them with glassy eyes, feeling for them in ways that they dont feel for them selves… we do this because of our concept of ‘rights’ and thinking people have the right not to live traumatic lives. But there is something a bit twisted with it all, because in countries where trauma is integrated into life, people don’t look at it the same… it is often a dry memory, and i think it shows the strength of the human spirit, the strength to overcome. I wonder if perhaps we were built for more trauma than we think we are. Not that i wish trauma on anybody,… of course.

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