“You will have to return back and start to think how to get back to the original place to continue your journey …”
Lam Li once told me that after months of traveling, it was a common phenomenon to develop certain “nightmares”. The travelers’ nightmare as she experienced quite often was seeing herself somehow had to be thrown back to her home country, and in the dream she had to struggle hard to return back to the place where the journey was interrupted. “You will have to return back and start to think how to get back to the original place to continue your journey …”
I heard about this when I met her in Kandahar.
My journey started on July 28, 2005. So it is only a week for it to reach its 1st anniversary. It was a long overland journey from the busy city of Beijing, through the mainland China to the land of the Uyghurs in the west, climbed up the heavenly peaks of Tibet, traversing the province before going down to the peaceful lowland of Nepal. The Annapurna mountain ranges of Nepal left the village impression of the country deep in my mind, before I had to struggle with the notorious cheaters of New Delhi. The colors of Rajasthan glimpsed me a cliché impression about the colorful India, and I also experienced the unpassable gap between the haves and have-nots in the metropolitan Mumbai. Being sick and hospitalized in India was another different experience, and it was the reason for me to rush to northern mountains of Pakistan to take full rest. The Ismailis of Hunza and Gojal valleys are always hospitable, but one should experience the great confidence of the Kashmiris. Despite of the suffering after devastation, they were still full of hope for the future. The deep desert of Tharparkar, the metropolitan Karachi, the bustling Punjab, and the romantic Pashtunistan, all were what Pakistan let me to learn and taste. And now I am in the war-torn Afghanistan, trying to learn the struggle of the nation to develop their future.
But suddenly I found myself back in Beijing. Without knowing how and why, I became what I was in July 27, 2005, queuing in front of train ticket counter in Beijing, trying to make my way to the promising journey. I got the syndrome as what Lam Li told me, and it was so sad to be returned back to my zero start point. I experienced many things in last one year and I am happy I had them in my past, but I don’t want to replay, rewind all of them. I was thinking very hard how to return back to Kunduz from this zero point in Beijing, without passing again the lengthy journey. Even when I was sleeping, dreaming, my mind about distance, visa regulation, cost, etc still worked pretty well. My brain gave me a direct answer: PAKISTAN. It was the country that came immediately. It is the country I loved so much, and at the same time, easily accessed from China and Afghanistan. The visa was easy to get, and the most important, the love that Pakistan offered and the cute language it spoke always attracted me to go back and back again. I have so many friends there, with whom I shared my happiness and sorrow, with whom I discussed about world politics and religion, with whom I shared my meal and tears. Even when I am not dreaming, Pakistan is always in my mind.
I was not dreaming that day, my last day in Pakistan. It was when I didn’t spend any second of the night for sleeping. Instead all memories about Pakistan were replayed in my mind, and I cried the whole night. A friend called me that night, and his voice was so pacifying. But it made me even felt more difficult to leave the country.
In dream, all memories about Pakistan were more romantized and exaggerated. The syndrome I got, after 1 year of traveling, didn’t put me to think about my home islands in Indonesia. Instead it threw me to deeper sorrow and longing to return back to Pakistan.