Kabul. Rahmatullah Hanefi is again a free man. Today at 4 p.m, on a sunny afternoon,
Rahmatullah got out of the door of the Investigation Department 17. Exhaustion
in his eyes, dressed in a white shawar kameez. "Salam Rahmat!".
"How are you?" asks Gino Strada, who went to collect him at the prison. "Alive", answers in pashtu. Then, in italian, he adds: "I'm fine".
A quick hug, then they hurry to the Emergency staff facilities. There, they wait anxiously, after preparing festoons with red plastic roses.
"He's here with us, he's free": Gino Strada hastily communicates the news to the headquarters of Emergency in Milan. From the other side of the wire, shouts and applauses are heard. Abdullah, Rahmat's cousin, dials the number of their home in Lashkar-Gah, in the heart of Helmand province, in the last months the epicentre of the war. He hands the phone to Rahmat who, after three months, can speak to his wife. Emergency facilities are close to the hospital of the Ngo, in the central Shar-e-naw street. When the cars arrive, green tea is already on the table, together with raisins and toasted almonds.
Rahmat's beard is very short. He smiles and sighs, while drinking a tonic water and calling home again. Gino Strada is radiant: "It's a beautiful day, a day of joy, not only for Rahmat and Emergency, but also, I believe, for many afghans and italians".
After three months of anxiety and fear, the situation has come to a turning point last saturday. Rahmat's family and colleagues smile. Adjmal Hodman, the attorney who handled the case of Emergency manager, has received the sentence from the attorney general: acquitted of all charges. In Afghanistan it's an outburst of 'Allah i karim', god is merciful; in Italy the corks of sparkling wine pop up. Gino Strada leavese the heart surgery center in Khartoum, bound to Kabul. Then the wait begins again. "Only a signature on the prisone leave paper is missing", says the attorney. Rahmat spends another night in the hospital of the afghan security, where he had been admitted for a kidney failure.
Sunday morning, under a pall of smog, Kabul starts its day with a blast. An explosion hits a bus full of afghan police in the town centre: it's the second attack in two days. At least thirtyfive casualties, many policemen and many civilians. Tens of injured. There's traffic in town, the atmosphere is tense: it's the worse attack in the capital since the beginning of this war. Meanwhile, in Emergency facilities a phone call is awaited. Rahmat's cousin keeps lifting the wristband of his white shawar kameez to check the time: it seems the watch goes too slow. Hodman the attorney sits composed, dressed in a dark green western suit, some white hair in his pitch black beard. Time goes by, tens of green tea cups are drunk, the cofee-machine is working all the time. Gino Strada smokes and speaks continuously on the phone, trying to understand at what stage is the whole bureaucratic procedure of prints, letters, signatures. The Emergency facilities are a microcosm of afghan, pashtun, pajshiri, hazara. The most loyal are ready to welcome Rahmat, but the telephone is not ringing. In the first hours of the afternoon, some blasts are heard instead. "Did you hear? Two rockets.. three, four": Koko Jalil numbers the explosion pointin his finger towards east. Other phone calls. "The Attorney general put his signature, now it's the turn of the security chief: another postponement, and the last hours of wait make everyone nervous, now that the matter seems to be coming to an end. The sun sets, and Rahmatullah is not out yet: fardō, they say, tomorrw. Fardō, inshallah.