[FOUNTAIN]In her eyes, war and fear

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[FOUNTAIN]In her eyes, war and fear

An eyeball is about the size of a ping pong ball and weighs seven to eight grams. It moves about 100,000 times a day and eyelids blink some 5,000 times per day.

An old Korean aphorism says that if a body is worth 1,000 won, eyes account for 800 won of the total. That's right, because 80 percent of our outside information comes to our brain through the eyes.

While eyes are the windows through which human beings collect information, they also are the windows through which humans express their inner thoughts. You may stammer, but your eyes will say exactly what you truly want to say. You may tell endless lies, but your eyes will reveal your true thoughts.

Mediterranean people in olden days believed in the existence of "the evil eye." People who have an "evil eye" can make other people miserable just by looking at them.

Ancient Romans set up statues of the goddess Nemesis throughout their empire as a way to drive away the evil eye. Many Italians are said to still believe in the existence of jettatori, or people born with a harmful gaze.

Let us look at the eyes of this Afghan girl. One glance is enough to see how filled she is with agony and fear. Her eyes are full of distrust toward the things around her. In short, those are eyes that have seen too much tragedy.

When she was still a girl, she was forced to leave her hometown in Afghanistan; she fled to Pakistan when the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The photo was taken by a renowned photographer, Steve McCurry, in 1983 when he visited a refugee camp. Her face was on the cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic magazine. The world shuddered at the expression on the little girl's face.

In last Sunday's issue of the Observer, the British newspaper reported, "The girl McCurry photographed is alive and hiding in the rugged mountains that line the Afghan-Pakistan border, terrified that because she once taught English to Bin Laden's daughters, the Americans may want to capture her."

Her family said they are worried that "Alam Bibi", now in her 30s, might be taken to the United States, the Observer said.

It is hard to tell when her long flight might end. She and her children are alone in the harsh Afghanistan winter. Maybe in her eyes, all the parties involved in the Afghanistan war look like people with the "evil eye."

The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoonAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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