Scammed again? Or Love?
I’ve figured a long time ago the word “SCAM-able” is visible to all scam-mers on my forehead.
I don’t think it exists on mom’s, but she falls for it all the same cause I can be very persuasive and convincing … but deep down inside I know she goes along for the ride because she loves me.
The past two weeks have co-incidentally been an Afghanistan-Week. I, who do not place Khaled Hosseini in the ‘Penelope’s Favourite Word Jumblers’, re-read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns … and cried buckets. Because Khaled Hosseini triggers the flood gates and leaves me with an uneasy feeling of knots in the stomach, aches in the heart and 2 voices that continues to argue in my head for days end, I have my apprehensions when it comes to picking up a Khaled Hosseini. So, luckily there’s only two, thus far and both of which I had bought ‘fake’ reproductions in Delhi. :)
Don’t get me wrong. Khaled Hosseini is a brilliant writer.
To be truthful, his words alone do not evoke my almost retching reaction. But they resurface memories, feelings and emotions I have over the past years tucked into the back recesses of my mind and latching it shut.
Oh yes, I do know the nang and namoos of Pashtun men!
How they have created havoc for me, even when separated thousands of miles and 12 time zones.
It was like living for months on the highest and longest roller coaster, where with time there were less ‘highs’ and more and more excruciating pain; one which in my darkest of dreams I see myself crouching in a corner of a barren room, hands over my ears, rocking or swaying my body in a rhythmic forward-backward motion, muttering chup ko (shut up) repeatedly to the voice in my head.
On the good days, I would will myself to scale K2, cross Patagonia, run to Mali … you name it!
For him … or for the images. Till this day I do not know for sure … years down the road and I can’t tell what the ‘pull’ was. what the attraction was.
him? or the pixels?
Towards the end of our journey, I had difficulty distinguishing reality and friction.
I was a mess. He was a mess.
My madness. His madness.
Lies and excuses or truth and explanation.
chup ko chup ko chup ko
…. was the only thing that was trying to keep my mind sane.
Not knowing anything about Afghanistan other than the Steve McCurry NGM photo, still reached out and offered him a life line… while I was convinced by then everything about him is a scam.
I was by then blinded from his scares from the shrapnel.
I had convinced myself that his Islamabad issued passport was made for US20.
See, by that time, I was speaking to every dead family member of his; dad, mom, brother … over the phone every other day.
While I was obsessed with sorting my mind out, mom busied herself making arrangements to accommodate him; clearing out the spare apartment for him, calling her connections to arrange a visa, and trying to get him embedded or some free lance work to sustain himself, while he figures his next move.
Unable to cope, I told her this one day, “Mom, he’s dead.”
It shook her. She rambled about how cruel life was. She started recollecting all his misfortunes.
Throughout, I held on a stony expression.
He’s dead to me for all purposes and intend.
He was dead for real in mom’s mind and heart, simply because I uttered those 3 simple words to her, unknowing that it’s not the truth.
Tonight, at the sight of Aisha with her nose cut off on the cover of TIME magazine, I realised from both my reaction and mom’s that he is still very much alive in our memories. In our hearts and minds.
Was he a scam?
Were we scammed?
Or was he a victim of the Soviet insurgence? the Muhajideen. the Talibans … followed by the countless of wars he chased. then, the ghosts that haunts?
I will never know. I’m digging the hole and burying the past again.