Kabul – Lobotomy


Now I know the feeling if my memory is lobotomized.

Actually I have been in depression since the last two weeks. I celebrated my birthday with smiles on my face but tears flooding my heart. I tried to hide this feeling, but I just could not.

How it happened might be important, might be not. But the result is the same. I found my hard disk, full of my photos and writing which I have made during my journey, completely died. This happened one day after the funeral of the last Afghan King, Zahir Shah. The day before I had big quarrel with a fellow photographer who felt resented as the office didn’t allow him to go and chose me instead to cover the event.

My hard disk is damaged. Suddenly my day turned dark. I just could not afford to loose all of the images I made in my traveling around Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. All of the photos were in the hard disk. And now the hard disk is broken. Along with the photos, I also lost my writing documents, some unpublished blog posts, some photos of my family members and friends. All is gone.

For photographers, there is no more scarier nightmare but losing the photographed images. The nightmare, which I believed would never come to me, now become a reality that I have to suffer.

Now I know the feeling of being lobotomized. Lobotomy is a kind of psychosurgery, done by destroying some parts of the brain to cure mental problems. The result of this brain-destroying operation was of course losing memory. I have seen a photo of young Howard Dully, a 12-year-old boy at that time, before and after his brain was being lobotomized, being ‘processed’ by an instrument resembled an ice-pick. A healthy and naughty boy turned to be the one who even could not control his eyes to keep open and the mouth to keep south. Saliva came out from his mouth. His mental was disturbed, and all of his previous memories were erased.

Losing all of my travel memory kept in my little portable hard disk gave me the same effect. Losing memory is hurt. I know how Dully regret the 10 minute of operation which changed his life and erased all of his memory before that 10-minute operation. But if Dully lost his memory forever, I still had the confidence of restoring back my ‘memory’.

An Indonesian friend who was going to return back to Indonesia for RnR program offered me a help. He could bring my hard disk to Jakarta and find shop to repair it. I also involved two more friends in Jakarta into troubles of restoring my ‘memory’. For Pak Sap, Maria, and Chendra…, I owe you too much.

So, in short, the damaged hard disk already arrived to one of renowned data recovery companies in Jakarta. It took them 3 days to detect, 1 day to get the spare part and 3 more days to restore the data. It’s a long wait. Since August 1 until today, I had never had any good sleep. All what I thought was to return back every single bit of my lost memory.

After detection of the hard disk problem, the result was not very optimistic. The head was damaged. As far as I know, hard disk can be restored as long as the plate, where the data is saved, is not damaged. And after searching online to learn about hard disc anatomy, I just found that head is separated from plate only several microns. I just wish that this damaged head did not touch the platter.

But it was just a wish in a midday dream. Today Chendra told me that after final detection of the hard disk, it was found that the platter was already scratched by the head. The Jakarta hard disc doctors said that even if they tried to recover the data, only 0.5% of the data will be recovered.

I am totally lobotomized.

I was shocked. I only spend the time today for chatting with friends by MSN. Some friends tried to comfort me. A Chinese journalist friend wrote “God Bless Avgustin’s Hard Disk”, but she mistakenly spelled Disk with a ‘c’ instead of an ’s’. It brought a slight smile to me. Another French photographer friend recommended me to bring the hard disk to Drive Savers, one of the best data recovery services in America. But the cost of data surgery scared me very much. He spent 2000 dollars for rescuing 250 GB data two years ago. After I inquired, for my 100 GB hard disk, the estimated cost would be US$ 2700. That’s far beyond my reach.

How can I bring my ‘memory’ back?

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