In Kabul, An Uneasy Springtime Equilibrium At the start of Afghanistan's "fighting season," officially declared by the Taliban on Friday, NPR producer Rebecca Hersher meets a group of boys who just want to fly their kites.
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In Kabul, An Uneasy Springtime Equilibrium

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In Kabul, An Uneasy Springtime Equilibrium

In Kabul, An Uneasy Springtime Equilibrium

In Kabul, An Uneasy Springtime Equilibrium

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At the start of Afghanistan's "fighting season," officially declared by the Taliban on Friday, NPR producer Rebecca Hersher meets a group of boys who just want to fly their kites.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

In Afghanistan, violence spikes as the snow melts in the mountains. It's called the fighting season - spring, summer and into the fall until the snows return. That season has been underway for weeks, with clashes all over the country. But according to the Taliban, their official offensive began yesterday. In Kabul, NPR's Rebecca Hersher talked to people about what that means for daily life.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: The official fighting season actually begins with a Taliban press release. Beginning at 5 a.m. on Friday, they warned there would be deadly attacks across Afghanistan. But after many fighting seasons, Kabul has found an uneasy springtime equilibrium. Five a.m. Friday comes and goes, and by mid-afternoon on this day off, people are out enjoying the sunshine at the top of a hill in Kabul.

MOHAMAD ATI BOHODARI: Actually, I am tired of fighting.

HERSHER: Mohamad Ati Bohodari.

BOHODARI: The weather is getting nice every day. But unfortunately, on the other hand, the fighting is getting tougher and tougher, and we are hearing bad news.

HERSHER: His family came with him to the park piled into their car. There are streets they avoid now that the Taliban offensive has begun.

BOHODARI: The most targeted routes, you have to avoid those routes. You have to use your sixth sense.

HERSHER: Off to the side, a man named Amanullah sells kites.

AMANULLAH: (Speaking Dari).

HERSHER: He says the fighting hurts business. The kite flying season is the fighting season.

AMANULLAH: (Speaking Dari).

HERSHER: But, he says, it's better than it used to be. When the Taliban were in control, kite flying was banned entirely. Those dark times are before the memory of 11-year-old Shayeq.

SHAYEQ: (Speaking Dari).

HERSHER: Shayeq says he loves flying kites so much he walked 45 minutes to get here with his little cousin. I asked him if he felt safe walking across the city today.

SHAYEQ: (Speaking Dari).

HERSHER: His friends egg him on. His little cousin pulls on my dress. "Yeah," he admits, "I'm afraid sometimes."

What are you afraid of?

SHAYEQ: A bomb

(LAUGHTER)

HERSHER: A bomb. Nearby, boys can rent a motorbike for a dollar. Kids are piled into an American ATV like a souped-up golf cart driving around in the dirt. The motorbikes share the dusty park with young men on horses. Same deal - for a dollar, you can gallop around for a few minutes. Then, up the road, comes a small, blue cart. It's the Kabul ice cream man, playing a familiar tune to welcome spring.

(SOUNDBITE OF ICE CREAM TRUCK MUSIC)

HERSHER: Rebecca Hersher, NPR News, Kabul.

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