Beth Murphy

Notes of sympathy from Kabul, Afghanistan.

When I left Boston for Afghanistan nearly 6 weeks ago, it was with some trepidation--the first I've felt despite several filming trips here. The Afghanistan I'm visiting this spring is not the same as the country I traveled to in 2001 and 2002, or 2006 and 2009; it has experienced a decade of war, and I've seen firsthand how the outlook has changed from one of cautious hope for a better future to one of grim acceptance that this last painful, protracted period of violence and political upheaval may still not yield freedom from oppression in this country.

Just last week I woke up to frantic emails and texts from home after the worst insurgent attack in the country in over a decade. "Yes, I'm fine. I'm safe," I wrote to family and friends, assuring them that I was far from the violence. But then I grabbed my phone off the bedside table the other day and thought I was re-reading one of my own texts: "We're ok. And everyone we know is safe." It was a message from my husband, Dennis, assuring me that he and our 5-year-old daughter were fine.

Boston. Attacked.

It was--and still is--hard to comprehend. Like so many others, I have experienced the pure joy--and pain--of crossing the Boston Marathon finish line, and I felt heartbroken for the victims and my city. I felt a deep sense of longing to be home.

I decided I wanted to send some love from 6,500 miles away. Before leaving the house, I made the sign, "To Boston / From Kabul / With Love," and planned to take one picture of me holding it. But as I talked to people here about what had happened (many had heard the news), I saw the pain in their faces. They said "I'm so sorry," with that slow, defining head shake that doesn't need another word of explanation; it says, "I understand."

Frozan Rahmani, a program officer for CARE International, told me, "Every time I hear about attacks happening, whether it's in the United States, Pakistan, England or here, I became too sad. All those people had hopes and dreams for their futures. Their parents had hopes and dreams for their futures. It doesn't matter that we experience this more often here. No one should experience any of it ever. It's always the innocent who suffer."

She paused. "I wish there was something I could do."

"There is," I said. "Would you be willing to hold this sign to send a little love from Kabul?"

To Boston. From Kabul. With Love. 3
To Boston. From Kabul. With Love.
To Boston. From Kabul. With Love. 8
To Boston. From Kabul. With Love. 4
To Boston. From Kabul. With Love. 9
To Boston. From Kabul. With Love. 1
To Boston. From Kabul. With Love. 6
To Boston. From Kabul. With Love. 2

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Passengers line up for a bullet train at a platform in Tokyo Station.
    Transportation

    The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

    The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.

  2. POV

    What Surfers Understand About Gentrification

    When it comes to waves, newcomers are not wanted.

  3. An interior view of operator Rafaela Vasquez moments before an Uber SUV hit a woman in Tempe, Arizona, in March 2018.
    Transportation

    Behind the Uber Self-Driving Car Crash: a Failure to Communicate

    The preliminary findings into a fatal crash in Tempe by the National Transportation Safety Board highlight the serious “handoff problem” in vehicle automation.

  4. Solutions

    Are ‘Pee Beds’ a Fix for Public Urination?

    In an effort to clean up popular sites of outdoor urination, researchers studied the mind of the man who pees in public. Their work could make stadiums and festival grounds smell a lot fresher in the future.

  5. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signs bills for Metro funding and Amazon incentives in Rockville on April 25.
    Life

    Why Do Politicians Waste So Much Money on Corporate Incentives?

    Political scientist Nathan Jensen answers questions about his new book, Incentives to Pander.