Sweet Memory of Afghanistan

afghani-woman

Photo: Sylver Blaque/Kabul, Afghanistan

My skirt was too short by a few inches, exposing my ankles.

I pulled it down as far as I could; the elastic waist now hugged the top of my thighs.

At second morning prayer, I pleaded with both Jesus and Allah not to let my skirt slide from my thighs onto the ground in the middle of Kabul.

I had to buy a new, appropriate-length skirt.

Fast.

Chicken Street was the answer to my prayer. But before I could find it, an Afghani woman found me.

“Your skirt is short,” she informed me in beautifully lilting Dari, pointing an accusatory finger at my offensive hem.

“Yes, I know.” I answered in far less beautiful Dari. “Where is Chicken Street?”

She put her hand over her mouth, and giggled.

I chalked her amusement up to my foreign accent, and smiled back at her. “I’m a foreigner. Can you help me?” I asked.

“Of course you are foreign!” she guffawed. “You are not natural.”

That’s always nice to hear. I love being laughed at before being told I’m a cultural freak.

“But you are good anyway,” she added. Without smiling.

I witheld my smile as well. I had already been advised by a new Afghani friend about my “bad habit” of smiling at strangers.

afghanistan-home

Photo: Sylver Blaque/Kabul, Afghanistan

“Come!” She motioned me to follow her, and I did. Down the street, and into her home.

Just inside the front door. she shimmied out of her skirt. One of them. She wore another underneath.

“Two skirts?” I asked.

“I wear two skirts,” she answered matter-of-factly, holding the one she had taken off toward me. “Put it on.”

I did. It fit, and fell well beneath my ankles, thankfully. I smiled gratefully at her, again forgetting the smiling-at-strangers rule.

“Give me yours!” she ordered, pointing to my offending skirt, which I had let drop to my ankles.

“You want my skirt?” I asked, bewildered.

She raised her eyebrows, held out her hand.

I scooped up my skirt from the ground, and handed it to her. “Why do you want it?” I asked. “It’s too short.”

And, for the first time, she smiled at me.

“Souvenir,” she beamed.

It was then, for the first time on my first trip to Afghanistan, that I laughed out loud. Just put my head back, and let it rip.

Because, as I had yanked her skirt up over my hips, I had been thinking, “I hope she lets me keep it. What a great souvenir!”

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13 thoughts on “Sweet Memory of Afghanistan

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  2. I am really enraged over US war there. It is all about opium, not terrorism or politics or religion. Iraq/Afgh = 7,000 dead, 50,000 returning amputees, over 400,000 wounded and diseased with chronic mental and physical conditions, not including the suffering and death of innocent Afgh citizens.

    • Yes, these wars have decimated both our own and Iraqi & Afghani soldiers & civilians. And, I agree, it now centers around oil & opium rather than terrorism. Where there’s money to be made, there’s endless war to be raged.

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