Jun 28, 2008

"Tea and sympathy and tolerance"

From The Guardian's account of my friend Sean Langan's capture by the Taliban: plagued by intermittent dysentery and a lack of vitamins that would result in him losing five teeth, Sean and his fixer were accused of being spies and kept in a room measuring just 9ft by 7ft, and subjected to several 'mock' executions.
"We were in this room for 12 weeks. There was a hole, three inches by five, which was my only view of the outside world. I could see a couple of branches of an apricot tree. I could see two apricots grow and develop and butterflies and fields beyond. It kept me going, thinking about the outside world and English values that could be lost, like tea and sympathy and tolerance and basic humanity."

"My form of escape was into my imagination. I couldn't throw away an escapist thought in a moment. I would bath the children in my head. I would bathe their heads and each of their limbs and put them to bed and say: 'Goodnight. Daddy loves you. In your heart and in your head.'

"I was not there for my son's fourth birthday. I did a lot of soul-searching in that room. And the first thing that my son said to me when he met me at the airport was: 'Daddy, I am four.' It was family, faith and friends that kept me together."

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