War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

after war

you came for me at 1800 hrs. shiny as your new truck. I barely recognized the gait. hadn’t seen you in civvies for a long, long time. threw my arms around you, said, “you’re alive. you’re alive” you shrugged, “what are you talking about. we just talked last week”. but of course you don’t get it.

we drove south. searching for Afghan food. got lost in the land of strip malls and big box stores. even though we had your GPS, my magic phone. “I know my way around Kandahar city better than I know Edmonton” you said. “and I’m a hopeless navvy” I squinted and poked at the little screen on my mobile.

we drove and drove. should have done some recce on the restaurant. it was closed. down. I mean how much Afghan food can a cold Canadian city like this take (though we were really disappointed). so we hit the big Ave. parked and walked. and I watched you. in your new shirt and pants and shoes. your shoulders back, head thrust a little forward, eyes wide. and you were still Master Corporal on patrol. a little. a month since you’re back. and the Afghan sun is still on your face. as you find your way home.

but greenman. no apologies needed. you were doing what you had to do. but we were so afraid for you. and now you’re back. and you’re good to go. really good. there’s more than relief. the late spring sun is sweet and hot, good to taste, as fresh poured tchai after a long, long meal.

4 Comments (Closed)

Alex VanderWoude

That strikes me as odd. Back at Namao and a soldier wants to go eat, of all things, some Afghan food? Wow. I don’t understand that at all. Sure it can be very nice, but why? To feel like he’s back there?

I suppose British soldiers introduced Indian cuisine to their homelands for the same sort of reason, a kind of nostalgia perhaps.

Jun 18 2010 · 20:51


Alex: Maybe it’s just good food. And it is. The crew at my favourite Pakistani restaurant here started serving me decidedly different meals after I returned from there.

Proust had something to say about such things.

Jun 19 2010 · 07:38

Alex VanderWoude

Yeah, the Proust thing is kind of what I was getting at with my mention of nostalgia. See also the climax of the film “Ratatouille”. If our hostess’s post is accurate (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) then it shows how much a person is changed by being “over there”. I bet there’s a whole dissertation that could be written about the psychology of serving overseas, the food one eats while there, and the long-term effects it has even after the tour of duty is over (let us leave aside the gastro-intestinal jokes). Fascinating.

Jun 20 2010 · 10:59


I could write an entire book on the GI consequences of that place. Let me just say if you’re offered a glass of tea in downtown Khar, don’t drink it. Or you can be an idiot. Like me.

Jun 21 2010 · 10:43

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled after war. It was posted here on June 18, 2010.


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