iguacu’s Lead Researcher for Afghanistan Rahila Muhibi penned a personal note following Wednesday’s deadly explosions in Kabul in which, she has since learned, 11 members of her extended family and the families of her friends were killed.
Like so many Afghans living abroad, we stay connected with Afghanistan; for some that special bond is out of love of country, nostalgia, family members, or a combination of all three. Luckily I am in a profession that allows me to remain connected to home by daily monitoring of the situation in Afghanistan. As I woke up in London on Wednesday, 3500 miles from Kabul, and was getting ready to go to work, I saw a flood of social media alerts. So many family members, relatives and close friends were posting about the deadly explosion at the city centre of Kabul, killing 90 and injuring some 400.
At once, a very familiar feeling ran through me, a feeling I know so well now. When Taliban attacked an army base in Mazar-e Sharif in April, where I knew many people working there at the time, I felt the same rush of fear, worry and hope, and a wall of questions of what, who, where and why, all at once. As well as when the so-called Islamic State targeted peaceful protestors and all the other recent major attacks.
It was clear at the first instant this Kabul blast was not the usual daily explosion. As many times before, I first called family members I knew were working near the area. I was both desperate to know whether they were safe, and at the same time felt a dreadful reluctance to call, fearing their loss. I found my sister was safe, my nephew was unreachable but later found safe, my brother was devastated from the sound of it but reassured me he was alright. He was at the emergency site when I called, helping friends. My brother-in-law was also helping at the scene. Out of panic, I pleaded with them all to next time, please avoid all the major routes where attacks happen. I used to keep track of this information and now have lost track of it. Deep down, at the same time I said those words, I knew they could not avoid danger in such an extremely unsafe environment.
As the day unfolded, I found out at least eleven people from my close circle, including extended family and the families of friends, were killed, and so many other friends were directly affected. With an extreme helplessness, I turned to social media and other news outlets to find out more. I found the shock of the attack was felt everywhere in Kabul and everyone was affected. It felt as though the young professionals, the breadwinners and the core of Kabul were all targeted.
The images surfacing on social media were some of the most heart-wrenching, with some people feeling grateful they were alive, and others in despair with reactions of: “we live in a place where to live is accidental and to die is normal”. Then, I stumbled upon the feeling of joy when family members found each other safe, of people giving blood, and of civilians carrying the wounded on their backs. I found humanity again in the midst of a barbaric and inhumane act. This hope, this humanity, will help me eventually to move on, once again. It will help the people of Kabul to move on, and it will help us all to move on.
No matter what happens, we will remain humane.