It was a time of great hope. The golden years. No fighting in the city.
The streets were filled with troops from Britian, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Turkey. The soldiers would patrol the city on foot, saying hello, relaxed and smiling. I could photograph them as much as I wanted.
You could travel anywhere, south, east, west. Everywhere was safe.
And then in 2004, the Taliban came back.
But there is no more hope.
Life seems to be even more difficult than under the Taliban because of the insecurity. I don’t dare to take my children for a walk. I have five and they spend their time cooped up inside the house. Every morning as I go to the office and every evening when I return home, all I think of are cars that can be booby-trapped, or of suicide bombers coming out of a crowd. I can’t take the risk. So we don’t go out. I remember all too well my friend and colleague Sardar, who was killed with his wife, a daughter and a son while on an outing at a hotel, with only his small son somehow surviving the attack.
I have never felt life to have so little prospects and I don’t see a way out.
It’s a time of anxiety.
Shah Marai October 2016