January 01, 2009

Afghanistan: Distant Drums

USSRā€ˆleaves Afghanistan, February 15, 1989

For my student friends and me, greeting the New Year of 1980 was a rollicking good time. Even by Moscow standards it was frigid – 40º below – and getting around town was not easy for us girls with nothing but sheer stockings between our calves and the elements. But what fun it was for our jolly crew to tumble into a warm apartment already crowded with people, where music was playing and corks were popping. The cold just made it more of an adventure.

Nobody focused on the fact that, right before New Year’s, somewhere in Afghanistan, Soviet troops had stormed some presidential palace. The New Year, end of semester exams – who had time to follow the news? When one of my classmates came up to me in the wee hours and sarcastically congratulated me with the overthrow of “that bloodthirsty dog Amin,” I didn’t even know who he was talking about. Who was that? Ah, yes, some Afghan communist who came to power, overthrowing another communist, who had deposed an emir or something… It was all so distant.

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