it is 2079 and kabul is a post-industrial wasteland and an international city. not the kind ‎of international city that this word brings to mind -not the clean urban metropoles of ‎berlin and shanghai and dubai (actually remove dubai from the list -it is a horribly candy-‎like disneyland with no characters of a great city.) anyhow, back to kabul of 2079 (and by ‎some fluke of nature i am only in my early 30s) -the city is a confusing jumble ‎overwhelmed by concrete gray and sooth-black. like that scene from the matrix where ‎morpheus takes neo inside and they emerge on two red couches in the middle of a ‎wasteland, a moonscape, that is the real world outside the machine. that’s kabul in 2079. ‎and people of all backgrounds wander in it with dirty two-day stubbles and kafiyas ‎wrapped around their necks, smoking and caughing and with dishevelled hair and ‎apperances. not the friendly, clean, and health obsessed and security conscious expats of ‎the good old days of early 2000s. i see all the concrete and sooth and tar and darkness and ‎doom and think to myself: “so… all that ‘reconstruction and development’ that we were all ‎so worried about in the early 2000s finally worked… before it did not work and left kabul ‎like this..” i walk around the labyrinth of tall, grey structures… in some back alleys i see ‎characters with no identity and no giveaway of nationality gathering around fires in ‎empty kerosene barrels warming their hands and smoking cigarettes. all kafiyas. all ‎dishevelled hairs. all out of order appearances. all deranged looks in the eyes. who are all ‎these people? they are the internationals of the late second millenium. they are the ‎castaways of our post-modern world. no language. no identity. all a mix of accented ‎english language. ‎

‎’cept for the french. they have pig-headedly and obstinately held on to their dear old ‎language even as castaways of post-modernity in kabul. i see a group of them across from ‎the apartment building that i want to go inside. i ring the bell and she answers, in a voice ‎that hints fresh tears and sobs. “go away… never want to see you again… (electric cracks ‎of the line connecting the little, dirty cream colored speaker below to one of the rooms ‎above).. just leave me (the line makes electric noises again) alone..” ‎
‎- “vous-etes avec marie?”‎
i turn around and one of the frenchmen loitering in front of the apartment is staring at me. ‎he is in his early 30s. everybody seems to be in their early thirties. i am in my early ‎thirties. kabul -the post-industrial wasteland of greys and sooth-blacks is inhabited only ‎by this age group -no children. no little girls in frocks and skirts. no little boys in overall ‎jeans sucking on their lollypops. no red. no pink. no yellow. no blue. the sky, too, is a ‎dull grey. ‎
‎- “non… mon ami aurelie habites ici..” i answer. i press the dirty bell once again. ‎

this time there is a click and i walk in. the girl, must be marie, is coming down the steps ‎and glances at me, and then starts lighting a cigarette before joining her comrades in front ‎of the apartment. i start climbing the stairs. ‎
i don’t understand… i am so tired and there is no life in my legs. i think back to the fight ‎the previous night. a powerful MP had sponsored me for a prize fight in the arena and i ‎took a good beating from that beast of a man. last thing i remember is the MP’s big grin ‎and the wad of cash he handed me after the fight. i am a boxer. a boxer for rent. like the ‎one from jack london’s the valley of the moon. will my story have a happy ending too -‎like jack’s? ‎

i open the door and step in. aurelie takes a look at my face -“mon dieu!”- and her eyes ‎well up with tears. must be that bad, then. she says some french curse words a few merdes and then adds a trou de cul for good measure. and then she reverts back to her cute, french accented english. ‎‎”you fool.. why do you have to do this to yourself? and this time i see that bastard ‎‎(referring to my powerful MP friend), i will break his fat neck…” ‎
speaking of necks, aurelie’s must be the most beautiful of them all -slendar, porcelain, and smelling of a wonderful french perfume. its a bit absurd to smell something so ‎wonderful and colorful amid all this depressing dullness and grayness. my mind starts ‎wandering off on its own again. i thank god for paying such special attention when he ‎created french women, and their necks at that. they are the essence of ‘chic’, and women everywhere secretly ‎hate them for it. it’s the kind of hate that fundamentalist in the early 2000s had for ‎america -hating it at the same time of wanting to be it. they gave rise to such words with ‎wonderful connotations as ‘chic’ and ‘petite’ and all that other good stuff. and that dirty ‎blonde would look terrible on anybody else. on aurelie, it is perfect. she is wearing a ‎warm sweater that is shorter than the white t-shirt under it, and it all goes so well with the ‎black pants. we sit on the old couch. i look behind at the window -what the hell was i ‎thinking: a concrete wall barely a meter away from the window. blackened. is the world ‎everywhere like this? this grey and dull? ‎ببینیم آسمان هر کجا آیا همین رنگ است؟‏‎ and as if to ‎answer me, dale from king of the hill appears out of nowhere with a cigarette in hand -‎‎”that’s what they want you to think.. it’s only you and i my friend.. you and i..” i adore ‎dale for his evergreen suspicious of the system and of “them”.‎

i feel suffocated -i miss the kabul of yore. she takes my face delicately in her hands and ‎turns my face towards her -“how did it go?” it’s the same voice. she has not changed a bit ‎since she cried at that party so many years ago, listening to a song by mariah carey… was ‎it ‘my hero’? involuntarily my face begins to ache again. it feels swollen as a pumpkin. ‎two tiny children are playing with a toy truck on the hardwood floor, and a maid is busy ‎ironing something. aurelie tells her to spray some ‘gulgoona’ on the fabric for ease of ‎ironing. such a disconcertingly good name for a brand in this day and age -‘gulgoona’ -‎flower-faced. the maid sprays a whiff of the chemical on the white fabric and resumes ‎ironing. she is ironing a white, hand-embroidered piran. i look closer, it is the same white, ‎hand-embroidered piran that my mother -god rest her soul- had made for me when i first ‎went away from home. i remember wearing it at that party just before i left home and did ‎not see her for so many years. when i came back, everything had changed. she had ‎changed. i had changed. now, this white, hand-embroidered piran reminds me of things ‎before they changed. tears well up in my eyes and i miss my mother. she holds me closer ‎and…‎

i wake up at the noise of someone trying to turn the heater on. i look at my cellphone, ‎fluttering away the tears that i have cried in my sleep- it is past 7 already. once again the ‎damn alarm failed to wake me up. i have also received a message from her saying “I am ‎back in Afg.” -and a smiley: :)‎
i get up reluctantly and think to myself “wow, that was a wierd dream.. i should post it ‎under dreamscapes.” i think to myself how many other wonderful and quirky dreams i ‎have that i forget. if i remembered all of them as vividly as my early morning dreams, i ‎would have a wealth of posts under dreamscapes, and who knows, maybe a novel one of ‎these days in the vein of david mitchel’s number9dream or haruki murakami… and ‎besides, it is not an original and novel thing unless it comes out of a dream. ‎
afterwards, in the shower, brushing my teeth, getting dressed, and for a good part of the ‎way i think hard and try to scrap together and reconstruct the figments… ‎


~ by safrang on January 27, 2008.

5 Responses to “aurelie”

  1. I think by that time we would all be speaking Chinese (or even Hindi), not English nor even French. Plus, French language without a French whorehouse is a raw deal…

  2. wonderful to have you back, wolf club chronicler…

  3. […] * in other news, i was watching babylon a.d. and saw that the writer/director has stolen my vision of kabul circa 2079 as presented in this earlier post. […]

  4. […] posts. Nevertheless, as an English-only reader, I thoroughly enjoy Hamesha.) Bonus: a vision of cyberpunk Kabul, circa 2079, when only the French retain their native tongue and Afghan politicians wage their […]

  5. […] for the color black. which lends them with a certain mystique as if they are in touch with the darker side more than the rest of us […]

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