This is one of my best photos. The man in green has a sublimely peaceful and welcoming air. The boys seem to see all the world at their feet. The man in white. Probably a Mullah. Concentrating on his verses. One hopes that he is working out the path to peace in his heart and the world.
I had to run over to Camp Arena today to get the cap placed back on my tooth. Damn thing came off last night while I was eating. Camp Arena is the ISAF base at the Airport. The Spanish run the Hospital there. The Army gave me and two other guys a ride over for our dental appointments. The Spanish Docs were all pretty cool. Spaniards whom I have met over here are all pretty laid back. While we were waiting, two of the Docs walked out to have a smoke. I joined them. The both were intrigued by my smokes. Djarum Black Cappuccino. [thanx, Sis] They kept saying “cappuccino” and telling me that my smokes smelled like pipe or cigar tobacco. So I gave them a couple of my smokes. They were pretty appreciative. I think I made a couple of friends.
When I walked up to the Hospital, waiting outside in the “waiting room” were several Afghanis. The women all seemed to be dressed pretty upscale for Afghans. Very nice clothing. They had pulled up their burqas. The children were well behaved and very clean. Not the normal inch of 6 month old crud encrusted skin and dirty, dusty clothing that I’m used to seeing at and around the Police Stations. There was one boy and several girls. One very pretty little girl who was probably around aged 8 or 9 kept staring at me. So I smiled at her. She smiled back and seemed very happy about the interaction. I walked over and gave her a pack of Mentos gum. She gave me a huge, bright smile at that and nodded her thanks. She was seemed too shy to talk. I didn’t want to cause her any embarrassment or cause any concern for her mother or offend any of the Afghani men who were in the “waiting room” with us, so I just smiled at her and walked back over to the Spanish Docs.
About that time, the Dentist came out and called for me. I was first for the torture treatment. I went in. She adjusted my cap. Fiddled around in my mouth for a few minutes. Made a few adjustments to my cap. Fitted it in and made me close my mouth a couple of times. Then she pulled it out. Applied some kind of adhesive to it and re-affixed the cap to my tooth. I had to sit in her office and let the adhesive dry for 50 minutes. After the alloted time, she came back in. Scrubbed around the tooth and cap to make sure all was ok with the fitting and such. Made sure I was good with everything and then she let me go. i thanked her and went back outside to wait for the two guys who came in with me.
When I went back outside, I sat down on the ground in the “waiting area” and started reading the book that I had brought with me. I sat down in the middle of the waiting area about 5 feet away from the group of women and children who were waiting for the Docs. The Afghani men were sitting to the right of me. As I sat and read, the little girl to whom I had given the gum slowly inched her way over. Closer and closer to me. I purposely paid her no attention so as not to spook her. I wanted to see what she would do. So she got about a foot and a half away and sat. Then slowly slid over next to me so she was almost touching me. So close, in fact, that I could feel her breathing on my arm. I was a little surprised. Such a brave child. I looked over and smiled at her. She smiled back. I kept reading. I’m sure that she couldn’t read English. But I made sure that she could see my book. I found myself wishing that I had brought a book with pictures for this circumstance. Would have been cool to show her pictures of other worlds and realities to which she will probably never have access. [A bit of coincidence. I’m reading Caliphate by Tom Kratman. At this point of the book, one of the main characters is a 9 year old Muslim girl. Now, as I come across this character in the book, I see my little Afghani friend.]
One of the Army guys who gave us a ride over showed up and gave the little girl a bag of M&Ms. She smiled up at him in gratitude. It’s always nice to see kids smile when they are given candy or shown a kindness. In those moments, all is right in the world. Small moments that never quite last long enough. I pointed to the M&Ms and told her “chocolate.” She smiled at me. And shyly looked down at her small treasure of candy coated chocolate delights. Then she tore open the bag and the first thing that she did was offer some to me. I refused. Insistently pointing to her and telling her to enjoy her candy. She ate a few while sweetly smiling at me.
I stopped reading and started looking through all of my pockets for something to give her as a gift. Some small token or memento of her encounter with the blonde haired American soldier. Because of the uniform that MPRI has us wear, Afghanis always assume that I’m a soldier. After surveying the inventory of my pockets, I could only come up with one thing that had any meaning at all. I ripped off my name tag and gave it to her and said “naam-e man” which means “my name.” She was the cutest little angel with the sweetest little smile. The whole time she sat next to me, I smelled flowers. Must have been her shampoo as she very nearly had her head on my shoulder the whole time she sat next to me.
Eventually, the Docs came and took her in to take care of her ailments. Before she returned, the guys and I were all finished up. We went to lunch. By the time we finished eating and got back to our vehicle, the little girl and all of the Afghanis were gone.
Little encounters like this one are always magical for me. A few smiles and simple gestures. Yet, a whole world can pass between people in small spaces such as this. Helping to bring a smile to a little girls face is such a priceless experience. I can not quite describe the joy that I derive from these simple moments. I sat there next to that girl and watched her smile and thought of my nieces and every little girl in the world. In moments like these, I feel truly lucky to be able to move about in life as I do. I have experienced so much and met so many great people along the path of my life.
Little girls are made of daisies and butterflies and soft kitty cat purrs And all the precious memories of times that once were.
Little girls are made of angel’s wings and giggles and a firefly’s glow And all the happy feelings, deep inside, that we all know.
Little girls are made of cinnamon and bubbles and fancy white pearls And snowflakes and rainbows and ballerina twirls.
Little girls are made of sunshine and cupcakes and fresh morning dew, And these are the reasons, little one, why everyone loves you.
I didn’t have my camera with me. So I couldn’t take my little friends pictures. These will have to do.