What remains for me is the question of how we live after war. How do we go on? Day after day I might wake up wondering what will become of my life, but I do not wonder about my mortality, or what dangers I might encounter. I can well see that I could become accustomed to the charged awareness, the adrenaline for breakfast. And, landing after on solid ground and with a view of clear skies, with no easily apparent injuries, the forced withdrawal must be almost maddening.
With The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam, I am experiencing a rather elementary-school version of that horrified, yet transfixed, attachment. It's not often I can say that I miss the characters in a novel; but more than missing the individuals, Casa, David, Lara, Dunia and Marcus, I miss their lives. I became accustomed to Aslam's compassionate yet harsh imagination, and his very precise rendering of the mixed-up realities of war-torn Afghanistan. Each character gracefully tells a history of war, religion, personal relationships, and how one lives day-to-day in the chaos of terror. I am left with both a desire to know more, to continue to have each of these characters teach me about their lives and emotions, and a sense of horror that I could possibly want to experience more of the ugly realities of human cruelty.
Is it both a craving for, and rejection of, a deeper understanding of what makes me human?