Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Exploding, hazy set and spun over the crest of the mountains, the clouds hovered.
Such a sight to be greeted with as one climbs the last peak before salvation, this cloud spoke to me of sanctuary, spoke of comfort and rest.
We’d travelled for nine days through the passes of the Hindu Kush avoiding bandits and brigands, wild animals and harsh weather. Above all, we’d left our enemies far behind.
Somewhere, war rolled on, but up here the thin air sent my head reeling and thinking only of where I would next lay down to sleep. Right now I could see that place, in the valley below. The village of Chest-e Sharif had been sprinkled like leaves along the shallower slopes below.
I gazed at the cloud and thanked God for bringing us this far, to the brink of safety. I roused Rasul who was always on the edge of slumber now, often quite literally stumbling too close to the edge.
“Rasul,” I said, “Look how far we have come; we have nearly reached our goal. See, even the clouds are welcoming us with salutations!”
But Rasul winced as he stared into the vaporous cloud, rallied and set off down the mountain without another glance at the magnificent cloudscape.
Perhaps when he looked out at the clouds, level with ourselves, he felt a strange blasphemy, to be living as high as heaven? Maybe he saw in the cloud the detonation of the war he was leaving behind? Or perhaps this white cloud was just one lofty peak too high for him?
I called then, down the mountain after Rasul, called to find out what made him turn away, but he said that he was just tired of looking.