While my personal life was being swallowed by far too big historical events, a friend was leaving everything behind. Everything means the country she so loved, cultivated with her back parallel to the soil, barehand, seeding a new tomorrow, where she painted and her life rotated with the moons and the rains, the changing of the seasons and the heartbeat of mother nature.
She had to leave. I am sure she never wanted to do so. Notwithstanding the 30-something years of war, she was one with the habitat and what she was doing, with the earth below her feet and her sheltering sky.
My friend is one of the humblest persons I know and it strikes as being humble is sort of passé these days.
Of herself, only once, she said publicly: ‘Yes I am a journalist . I lived and worked mainly in Pakistan and Afghanistan for 35 years. With a spell in the Gulf too. ‘War Correspondent‘ is the term. But I was much more than just this. A Peace worker who worked for Women/Children’s rights, with farmers to rebuild agriculture, etc.. etc. I had my own Peace Project in what became – and is – a Taliban area of Afghanistan. The latter was, in many respects, the sum of my life’s dream….one which, in time, became a nightmare and I am commenting no further’.
We have never openly spoken about what happened to us. What we saw, how we felt, what we were forced to witness and swallow, the shattered dreams, what eventually we had to leave behind (nothing to do with personal belongings).
She knows I somehow know, I know she would understand.
Point is we both acknowledge some shadows cannot be left behind.
What happened to us is that we acquired what she calls raw emotions, additional screams: ‘The kind of scream that you and I hear and feel all the time. I pray that you are managing in your ‘new’ life. I am still fighting bouts of PTSD. Time will heal they say, but I know that the pain, the silent scream will never leave me. I, like you, I feel. I cannot simply turn my back and walk away´.
I told her that I needed someone who tells me she knows how it feels and to tell me I am not alone in the raging tempest.
I dared add: ´Two nights ago I was in bed and I was so sure I could hear children (many) crying. I was awake but could hear them. And I am in the country side. No one close to me. I guess war will never leave us, Z. Some days will be better than others but, in general, no, our wars will follow us. Always´.
´I often hear the crying too. And much more.´ Z. replied.
I woke up thinking about Z., today.
I turn my head West because, physically, she is there, beyond these mountains. Better: Z. is everywhere.
Even if it´s early morning, I am sure she´s already painting or working on her fruits and vegetables garden. Or writing her next gardening column. Or drawing the lines of her new Peace Project.
Some people cannot stop trying to bring a push forward to our world, even when they carry a heavy heart and hear screams. And much more.