纽约时报双语: 我在阿富汗打过仗,我仍然不知道这是否值得

我在阿富汗打过仗,我仍然不知道这是否值得
I Fought in Afghanistan. I Still Wonder, Was It Worth It?
TIMOTHY KUDO
2021年4月15日
纽约时报双语: 我在阿富汗打过仗,我仍然不知道这是否值得

When President Biden announced on Wednesday that the United States would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, he appeared to be finally bringing this “forever war” to an end. Although I have waited for this moment for a decade, it is impossible to feel relief. The Sept. 11 attacks took place during my senior year of college, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that followed consumed the entirety of my adult life. Although history books may mark this as the end of the Afghanistan war, it will never be over for many of my generation who fought.

当拜登总统周三宣布美国将在2021年9月11日之前从阿富汗撤出所有军队时,他似乎是要给这场“无尽战争”画上休止符。虽然这一刻我已经等了十年,但我不可能就此感到解脱。9·11恐怖袭击发生时,我还在读大四,而之后我的整个成年生活都被消耗在了伊拉克和阿富汗战争里。尽管史书可能将这标记为阿富汗战争的结束,但对于我们这代参过战的许多人来说,它永远不会终结。

Sometimes there are moments, no more than the span of a breath, when the smell of it returns and once again I’m stepping off the helicopter ramp into the valley. Covered in the ashen dust of the rotor wash, I take in for the first time the blend of wood fires burning from inside lattice-shaped mud compounds, flooded fields of poppies and corn, the sweat of the unwashed and the wet naps that failed to mask it, chicken and sheep and the occasional cow, the burn pit where trash and plastic smoldered through the day, curries slick with oil eaten by hand on carpeted dirt floors, and fresh bodies buried shallow, like I.E.D.s, in the bitter earth.

有时候,就在不过一口气的某些瞬间里,那种气息又会回来,我仿佛再次走下直升机的斜板,置身于山谷之中。周身被旋翼下洗流带来的灰尘覆盖,我第一次吸入各种气味的混合,柴火在格状泥炉中燃烧,被洪水淹没的罂粟和玉米田,污秽的身体流下的热汗,即使浑身湿漉漉地打着瞌睡时也能闻到的汗臭味,鸡、羊偶尔还有牛,在焚烧坑里整日闷烧的垃圾和塑料,在铺着地毯的泥地上用手吃的油腻咖喱,还有就像这片苦涩土地里的临时爆炸装置一样浅埋入土的新鲜尸体。

It’s sweet and earthy, familiar to the farm boys in the platoon who knew that blend of animal and human musk but alien to those of us used only to the city or the lush Southern woods we patrolled during training. Later, at the big bases far from the action, surrounded by gyms and chow halls and the expeditionary office park where the flag and field grade officers did their work, it was replaced by a cologne of machinery and order. Of common parts installed by low-bid contractors and the ocher windblown sand of the vast deserts where those behemoth bases were always located. Relatively safe after the long months at the frontier but dull and lifeless.

那是甜美的泥土气息,对排里那些在农场长大的男孩来说十分熟悉,他们了解动物和人类混合的气味,但对我们这些只习惯于都市或只在训练时巡逻过南方茂密丛林的人来说是陌生的。后来,在远离战场的大型基地,到处都是健身房、食堂和远征军办公园区,那是海军将官和校级军官工作的地方,那种气息就被代表机械和秩序的古龙水味取代了。这些庞大基地往往由低标承包商来安装普通部件,通常坐落于广阔沙漠的赭色风沙之中。在前线度过漫长的几个月之后,这里相对比较安全,但沉闷且毫无生气。

Then it’s replaced by the sweet, artificial scents of home after the long plane ride back. Suddenly I’m on a cold American street littered with leaves. A couple passes by holding hands, a bottle of wine in a tote bag, dressed for a party, unaware of the veneer that preserves their carelessness.

然后,经历长途飞行回国后,那种气味又被家里甜蜜的人造气息所替代。突然之间,我就置身于满是落叶的寒冷的美国街道了。一对夫妇牵着手路过,他们的大手提包里装着一瓶酒,为派对盛装打扮过,却意识不到这些虚饰暴露出的漫不经心。

I remain distant from them, trapped between past and present, in the same space you sometimes see in the eyes of the old-timers marching in Veterans Day parades with their folded caps covered in retired unit patches, wearing surplus uniforms they can’t seem to take off. It’s the space between their staring eyes and the cheering crowd where those of us who return from war abide.

我离他们很远,被困在过去与现在之间,身在一种有时在退伍军人日游行队伍中那些老兵的眼神里能看到的空间里,他们的折叠军帽上印着退伍部队的徽章,身上穿着似乎永远脱不下来的冗余物资制服。他们瞪大的眼睛和欢呼的人群之间那个空间,就是我们这些战争归来者的被困之处。

My war ended in 2011, when I came home from Afghanistan eager to resume my life. I was in peak physical shape, had a college degree, had a half-year of saved paychecks and would receive an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in a few months. I was free to do whatever I wanted, but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything.

我的战争在2011年就结束了,那时我从阿富汗回国,渴望重新开始自己的生活。当时我的身体状况非常好,有大学文凭,有半年的工资积蓄,几个月后就可以从海军陆战队光荣退伍。我可以做任何想做的事,但我却什么事都做不成。

Initially I attributed it to jet lag, then to a need for well-deserved rest, but eventually there was no excuse. I returned to my friends and family, hoping I would feel differently. I did not.

起初我以为是因为时差,后来又觉得是由于需要应有的休息,但最终,我找不到借口了。我回到了朋友家人身边,希望感觉能有所不同。但并没有。

“Relax. You earned it,” they said. “There’s plenty of time to figure out what’s next.” But figuring out the future felt like abandoning the past. It had been just a month since my last combat patrol, but I know now that years don’t make a difference.

“放松点。这是你应得的,”他们会说。“还有大把时间搞清楚下一步是什么。”但展望未来就像抛弃了过去。距离我最后一次战斗巡逻仅过去了一个月时间,但我现在知道,就算再过几年也无济于事。

At first, everyone wanted to ask about the war. They knew they were supposed to but approached the topic tentatively, the way you hold out a hand to an injured animal. And as I went into detail, their expressions changed, first to curiosity, then sympathy and finally to horror.

一开始,人人都想问我关于战争的事。他们知道应该在谈起这个话题时小心翼翼,就像对一头受伤的动物伸出手一样。而当我聊起细节,他们的表情就变了,先是好奇,然后是同情,最后是恐惧。

I knew their repulsion was only self-preservation. After all, the war cost nothing to the civilians who stayed home. They just wanted to live the free and peaceful lives they’d grown accustomed to — and wasn’t their peace of mind what we fought for in the first place?

我知道,他们的排斥只是出于自我保护。毕竟,待在国内的平民并没有因为战争付出任何代价。他们只想过好已经习惯了的自由安稳的生活,而且当初我们战斗的原因不就是让他们安心吗?

After my discharge, I moved to an apartment near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, overlooking downtown Manhattan. I’d sit and stare across the river to the gap in the skyline where I tried to imagine those two towers I’d never seen in person as people passed by laughing and posing for pictures. Part of me envied their innocence; another part was ashamed of them, and of me for wanting to be like them, and of the distance between us.

退伍后,我搬到了布鲁克林高地长廊附近的一处公寓,可以俯瞰曼哈顿市中心的景色。我会坐着凝视河对岸天际线上的缺口,试图想象我从未亲眼见过的双子塔,人们从我身边经过,一边说笑一边摆姿势拍照。我一方面羡慕他们的天真;另一方面又为他们感到羞愧,也为想和他们一样的我自己而羞愧,为我们之间的距离而羞愧。

But necessity forced me to move on and ignore those thoughts. I found a job, I dated, I made new friends, and I spent time with family. I pretended to be the man everyone expected me to be again after the war. But the memories remained.

但生活的需要迫使我无视这些念头,继续前行。我找了份工作,与人约会,交了新朋友,和家人在一起。战争之后,我假扮成了大家希望我重新成为的那个人。但记忆犹在。

I reached those milestones others measured their life by, but they meant nothing to me. As the thoughts became more demanding, I dismissed them with distractions. I worked longer hours, broke up with partners, sought different friends to replace the old. But like that nightmare in which the harder you run, the slower you move, the thoughts were impossible to evade.

我达成了他人衡量人生的各种里程碑,但那对我都毫无意义可言。当思绪变得越来越难以忽视,我用分心之事驱散了它们。我工作的时间更长了,与伴侣们分手,用不同的新朋友代替老朋友。但这就像那个你跑得越狠、速度却越慢的噩梦,你逃不掉自己的思想。

Now with the hangover after a night of drinking alone comes the stabbing thought: Did I survive the war for this? The once simple pleasure of an idle Sunday is undeserved because it has been paid for by the fallen and is no longer mine alone to spend. My dreams have been replaced by memories.

现在,伴随独自宿醉的昏沉,一个刺痛的想法袭来:我在战争中活了下来,就为这个?我不配像过去那样简单愉悦地度过悠闲的星期日,因为它是用阵亡者的生命换来的,不再只属于我一个人。回忆占据了我的梦境。

The past isn’t a psychological problem that can be medicated, changed or forgotten; it’s all I am. Those times when I do forget, it’s the forgetting itself that feels wrong. The actions and decisions I made at war are the most important thing I have. After all, I wasn’t a victim but a collaborator.

我的过去并不是能用打针吃药来解决的心理上的问题,也无法被改变或遗忘;我的过去就是我的全部。当遗忘真的发生的时候,我感觉遗忘本身是不对的。我在战争中做出的行动和抉择是我拥有的最重要的东西。毕竟,我不是一个受害者,我是一个同谋。

It’s not guilt, shame or regret but that feeling of having done a terrible duty. And when it ended, the only thing left was to shoulder the burden and keep walking in the long line of march as we’d trained to do so many times before. A person can bear any burden for a good enough reason, but the more the weight digs into my shoulders, the less I recall why I joined in the first place.

这种感觉不是负罪、羞耻或遗憾,而是一种没有尽职的感觉。当战争结束后,我唯一能做的事就是背起重担,继续跟随一条长长的队伍前行,就像我们曾经无数次训练的那样。只要有足够好的理由,多么沉重的负担都可以承受,但随着压在肩膀上的担子越来越重,我就越想不起来一开始为什么入伍。

I’d written a letter on the eve of my deployment, in case I was killed, and it’s the last evidence I have of who I was before the war and why I fought. The first paragraph reads, “It was worth it,” then it continues about honor, duty and patriotism before closing with a final farewell and a request for burial at Arlington.

我在出发的前一晚写了一封信,如果我阵亡了,它将是最后一样能够证明战争前的我是什么样的人以及我为什么而战的证据。第一段写道,“这是值得的”,接下来是关于荣誉、义务和爱国主义的话,以最后的告别和葬在阿灵顿公墓的要求作为结尾。

“It was worth it.” The words reverberate. The weight feels a little heavier, and I whisper them like a mantra and continue marching. But now the war is ending, and those words are enigmatic.

“这是值得的。”这句话在我耳畔回响。感觉负担又重了一些,我像念魔咒一样低吟着这句话,然后继续前行。但是现在战争正在结束,这句话变得难以捉摸。

Was it worth it? Everything has been because I’d been able to answer yes to that question. But what if the answer is no?

这真的值得吗?发生的所有的一切都是因为我一直在告诉自己,是的。但是,如果答案是不呢?

For a long time, my faith that the war might be won quieted moments of doubt. I’d been back for only a few weeks when one evening I received message after message telling me to turn on the television. President Barack Obama announced that we’d finally killed Osama bin Laden, and the news cut to crowds outside the White House and ground zero, cheering. After almost a decade of war, it could end.

长期以来,我坚信战争会取得胜利的信念淹没了那些瞬间的疑虑。我回国仅几星期后,一天晚上,跟多人发来信息要我打开电视。贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)总统宣布我们终于杀死了奥萨马·本·拉登(Osama bin Laden),新闻切换到白宫和归零地(Ground Zero)外欢呼的人群。打了将近十年的战争,竟然结束了。

I remember I once asked a village elder whether he knew why I was there. He responded that we’d always been there. Confused, I asked him about the attacks on America. He said, “But you are Russians, no?” After 30 years of war, it didn’t matter to him who was fighting but only that there was still fighting.

我记得自己曾经问一个村庄里的老人,他是否知道我为什么在那。他回答说,我们一直都在那里。我很疑惑,我问他知不知道对美国的袭击。他说,“但你们是俄国人,不是吗?”30年的战争对他来说,谁跟谁打仗并不重要,重要的是战争还在继续。

And what of the Afghan people, who will remain at war long after we leave? What of the kids who followed us on patrol and attended the schools we built? Did they grow up to be Taliban, just as our children grew old enough to fight in this war?

即使我们离开了,在那之后,阿富汗人民仍然长期身陷战争,他们怎么办?那些跟着我们一起巡逻并在我们建立的学校上学的孩子们怎么办?他们长大后是否成了塔利班,或是像我们的孩子那样,长大成人后又投身战场?

My first night in Afghanistan, a platoon sergeant told me he stayed awake each night thinking about what the children playing barefoot in the dirty, bomb-strewn roads dreamed about at night. After seven months, he had no answer. When my deployment ended, I too was no closer to an answer.

我在阿富汗的第一晚,一位排长告诉我,他每晚都醒着,思考那些在脏污的布满炸弹的路上光脚玩耍的孩子们在夜里会梦到什么。七个月后,他仍然没有答案。当我的驻守结束时,我也完全没有找到答案。

But now I know: They dream of war.

但现在我知道了:他们的梦里都是战争。

As time goes by, the most meaningful part of my life — and only its prologue — is being erased by time, by the enemy and even by my country. Although Afghanistan will dominate a few headlines now that it is ending, it no longer leads the evening news, and when it does appear in print, it’s buried deep in the back pages along with the rest of the violence that happens only to people in other countries. Unable or unwilling to solve the problem, the average American is once again content to forget it exists, just as we were on Sept. 10, 2001.

随着时间逝去,我的人生最有意义的部分——也是我的人生刚刚拉开序幕的那段时光——被时间、敌人,甚至是我自己的国家抹掉了。现在战争正在结束,虽然阿富汗会出现在一些头条新闻标题上,但是它不再占领晚间新闻,而当它出现在报纸上时,它会和其他只有别的国家的人才会遭遇的暴力事件一起被埋没在最后几页。普通美国人不能也不愿解决这个问题,他们再次情愿忘记它的存在,就像2001年9月10日那天。

But to me it feels wrong to forget or to move on. Maybe that’s because the only recourse I have left is to remember. I am terrified of the day when I will have the final memory of what happened over there — not because it will be my last but because it will pass unnoticed. The dead, like the war, will finally be forgotten, and there will be nothing to mark their grave.

但是,对我来说,遗忘或者翻篇是不对的。也许是因为我能帮助自己的唯一方法就是记住。终有一天,我将会最后一次想起在那里发生过什么,我十分恐惧那一天的到来——不是因为它将是我最后的回忆,而是没人会在意它。死去的人,就像这场战争一样,最终将被遗忘,而墓碑上没有任何东西来纪念他们。

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