I hate America. A country of infidels desecrating all that I love. As I walk past the earth scarred by their false righteousness, I am reminded of the necessity of faith. All roads to lead Mecca.
Hanan chuckled as she placed her fanatical bookmark back inside her ragged copy of Siddhartha. When she was younger she had dog-eared her pages, marking her place with the recklessness of inexperience, but when she was younger she read for escape. She could not understand her world, so she left it for worlds imagined.
Back in Kabul, it didn’t matter whether the oppression came from a fathers fist, or the bombs of a stranger. Whether it came from the taunts of other boys her age, the hidden planes sent by men she had never met or the stinging pride of her mother the first time she dressed her as a bacha posh, the oppression would come.
So she laughed at the notion that she had one enemy, and that America was it. They might be the most brutish, through that would be comparing apples and hand grenades. Of course, when considering the question, would one rather be blown up with a hand grenade, or beaten with a sack of apples, there are times one might prefer the grenade.
It really then was a question of style. A glancing blow from close range would do less damage than one sustained from shrapnel. Land mines into gold mines for any prosthetic company willing to brave the heat. If it were a near miss, one would have to prefer the fist to a missile.
But a direct strike, a blow that loosens a tooth, or several kicks to the stomach that left her limping for a week , compared to a faraway buzzing, a whistle, a shriek, then nothing. That might be a different story, she laughed, twisting her short, choppy hair.
All she could do was laugh. Every time she was able to get her hands on Vonnegut or Shakespeare, Bronte or Marquez, the humor was what struck her. If these geniuses with the greatest of insight into these twisted knots of our civilization could laugh at what they saw, why shouldn’t she?
Why couldn’t she laugh at her parents, who transformed her into a boy to satisfy the pressures of their deluded neighbors, who would revert her to her natural state to arrange her marriage, her life? Why couldn’t she laugh at her prospective husbands, one of whom would press himself inside of her with nothing more than her parents’ permission? Maybe it would be her cousin, and from his strength a beautiful baby boy, born with the head of a goat.
She would laugh as she wheeled her child to the clinic. Not at him, his sweet face distorted from centuries of tradition. Not at the other children, stuffed into the waiting room awaiting new pieces. No, her laughter was reserved for the silly, stupid world screaming obscenities at itself while they sat baking in purgatory.
A laughter that would ripple and grow, bubbling first from her deep beautiful stomach. A pit of hurt and happiness so entwined they fed off each other in a ravenous embrace, and when making love produced a sound so unexpected, so harmonic, the children around her instantly recognized and mimicked it.
Soon the entire waiting room was erupting, uproarious, the nurses were first to catch on. The lines in their faces, stripped bare by the demands of war, returned and spread across their cheeks and foreheads, wildfires of blush and crow’s feet bringing back to life landscapes deadened by the heartache of healing too many too soon.
The laugh began to spread in search of the pits of bellies desperate for any other feeling but loss, a virus infecting businessmen and beggars alike. Cars pulled over, lawyer’s pens trembled and scrawled their blues and reds, richtographs of the rich, warm tremors shaking the city. Chefs dropped their spatulas and grasped their sides, split like cracks in the earth, spewing forth a lifetime of whatever needed spewing.
The laugh spread from Kabul through the mountains and deserts into Pakistan, then across India and the rest of Asia. Island hopping like Macarthur, picking up strength on the cool air of the Pacific, the laugh swept the Americas, echoing across the ground like skipping stones. Not seconds since it had began, somehow, Hanan had taught the world to laugh along with her.
From her scarred, bruised but still amused lips, to the ears of a people finally living in union, understanding instinctively it was time to put down their tools of war and join in this joyful noise, for who among us has nothing to mourn. And for those precious seconds, at least, no one was killing anyone else.