I was traveling as a journalist in war-torn Afghanistan, the Taliban were just getting started in this country, whose citizens could hardly remember anything other than being shuffled figures in the proxy wars of powers near and far. That was in 1995, I experienced things that have left their mark on me to this day.
About ten years before that, my fellow students and I had been told that war was the absence of peace. I wrote in my notebook, “Nonsense.” For I knew from my mother, who had survived a life-threatening flight from India to Pakistan in 1949 and, in 1965, eighteen years old and pregnant, had fled to safety from Indian fighter airplanes amid the sound of sirens in Karachi, that “War is war. Nothing else.”
Standing among bombed-out houses in Afghanistan in the mid-nineties, surrounded by Taliban mercenaries who had lost their minds from killing, I remembered a laudatory speech Friedrich Dürrenmatt had given in honour of Václav Havel. He said: “Not war, but peace is the father of all things; war arises from peace that has not been mastered. Peace is the problem we have to solve. Peace has the fatal feature that it integrates war.”
The question of what war does to the individual has been bothering me for a long time. Also, what it does to love, and to sex. I wrote a song about it, Sex And Sorrow.