When I Was Still Alive…..
From the time I am floating very lightly in the air and wandering freely everywhere, I have a much clearer view of the earth and the things on it but what caused me to be floating in the sky is not a good thing to remember.
However, now my job is only to observe, to see and to recount to the others what I see, but unfortunately, I can’t do anything; I can’t act, I can’t move my body to act and can’t either react to all what I see. I can just watch everything from up here; from a bird-eye point of view and as a testimony and observer; the only thing I can do.
Now I am a free soul, but I can’t forget that day, I can share my story with you.
We’d passed a terribly long night of heavy weapon attacks in our zone. The sky was full of fire and horrible bombardments, artillery shooting by tanks, rocket launchers, and even helicopters rumble fulminated into our ears. The whole night, Rajab was hiding his head under the sets of mattresses, pillows, blankets, and night-clothes we’d pilled in a corner of the guest room. By any explosion, he sprang even though he hid his head through the pile of clothes thinking that he would be safer there. He cried and tried to hug me tighter when each explosion was heard closer to our street. What would you expect from a three-year-old child?
That day, my parents weren’t at home. My mom had twisted her leg a couple of days back, when she’d slid over icy surface close to the water well in our courtyard where she was washing the dishes. She had to go to her mother’s home to get rest and be assisted by a bonesetter, my dad had accompanied her and they remained there that night. It was in the midst of war, not possible to commute easily in the warzones. Blind bullets were whizzing everywhere and anyone could easily have one in the heart or in the skull. We lived in Afshar and grandpa and granny lived in Barchi. There was a dozen of kilometers distance between us.
Rajab my three-year-old brother had remained at home when my parents had to go to a bonesetter to the other area, and I had to look after him. After all, we couldn’t leave a child with the neighbors or relatives who lived along our street, nor we could join mom and dad under those heavy rocket launches towards our area; any move was just shot targeted by snipers, by rocket launchers who were positioned at the top of the Silo mountains or Tv Mountains over our area, that night.
In our area a lot of people lived, some were different than the others, but the majority had faces like us; round face, smooth noses, smiley almond-shaped eyes, I didn’t know much about the complexity of our differences with the other people. I thought everybody was the same; all human beings.
The strident sound of shootings had never let us sleep the whole night, but close to dawn, those horrible sounds of heavy weapons were reduced, maybe the soldiers and fighters were tired or it was time to pause for the morning prayer, the time when usually mom and dad also prayed, so our bodies automatically were to calm down because of extreme tiredness and our eyes were about to shut. Poor Rajab was sleeping on my lap, but then as the sun rose a little bit, other sounds began to rise up which were heard getting closer and closer to us; I heard the sound of marching, of running soldiers, shooting guns and hurrahing! It seemed that things were changed in our zone over the night. There were no more heavy weapons firing but just gun fires; one here close by, one there too far away, one in the midway towards the main street.
I was in between reality and dream after I had closed my eyes for a short while, I was dreaming my parents, they were back home, my mom’s leg was fine, we were all together at home. But in reality, only Rajab and I were at home, and Rajab was still sleeping on my lap when the loud shouts of victorious soldiers in the streets were heard kicking the doors forcibly and shooting people in the houses, got closer to us gradually until our next-door neighbor’s door was kicked open. When the Aajay Peer, the old kind woman went to see who was there at the door, she was immediately shot dead by a hot bullet of a fierce soldier who was thirstily looking for shedding human’s blood, especially Hazaras’ blood. It was when I sprang up, by the last whimper of the old woman and the cry of her family that was quietened by a machine gun soon after. There was only smoke of gunfire in the air and the stink of bloodshed at their door on the street. I could smell it even from inside our house.
Then it was obviously our turn, I had felt it with my senses, with my bones. I quickly placed Rajab in a quiet safe angle, to hide him under blankets, but he was afraid and didn’t let my hands leave him. Lalai, Lalai, where are you going?! Shhhhhhhhh!!!!! Do not say anything!!!! Keep quiet Rajab, my dear!!!!! I’m here with you. You do not talk!!!!! Okay!!!!! Just for a short time, after the soldiers are gone, then we talk!!!!! I will tell you stories again, but now just be quiet!!!! Okay?!
Okay, Lalai Jan! But stay here with me!
Okay! I’m here with you but if you talk, the soldiers are going to kill us!!!!”
Hearing this, Rajab began crying!!!!! “The Soldiers are going to kill us?!!!” Oh, No!!!!!!!!
How stupid I was, I shouldn’t have told him such a horrible fact, but I had no way, at that precise moment, how could I think of selecting my words or creating another story to make my three-year-old brother keep quiet.
No!!!!! I’m just kidding! But for God’s sake, Rajab, do not say anything, just for a short while, just for a few seconds. Do not cough. Do not sight! Do not even breathe! Do not do anything! Got it?!! It’s just for a few seconds, my dear little brother!!!! This will pass soon!!!!
It was a terrible moment to hide Rajab within the pile of blankets, pillows, and nightclothes, but there was no other solution at that moment. I just had to leave him in the hands of destiny. I was doubtful whether to rush to the door and open to see what was going on outside, or to hide myself in another corner when our door was kicked by force and two angry soldiers and broke into the courtyard, first firing in the air while shouting; Hazaras, O Bastard Hazaras!!! Where are bustard Hazaras hiding?! We are looking for Hazaras! Are there any Hazaras here?!! I remained blocked, nailed in my place for the shock of fear I faced them. Who knows how pale I was. The fear was not because of my own life but Rajab’s, our little angel, the family’s youngest member. The savage soldier’s long dirty wild hair stunk, their eyes were bloody reddish and they had Pakol hats on their heads. They were in greenish camouflage military uniform with a lined scarf around their necks. Insanely they were searching for Hazaras. As they saw me, they rushed towards me. Before I said anything, one of them gave me a heavy kick on the chest and I was thrown away, a couple of meters from them, collided with the wall of the room and was thrown on the ground. One spitted on me. “You dirty Hazara!!!!” “What the fuck, are you doing still alive?!” I had a lot of pain, and my left ear began bleeding, my nose bled as well. But still, I was happy that they didn’t see my little brother Rajab. One of the soldiers, the shorter one, put his foot on my face and forced it to squelch my cheek, I heard the smashing of my face-bones and my jaws were almost broken, more bleeding through my ears and eyes, while the taller one was continuously spitting on me and saying bad words about Hazaras.
When the shorter soldier was tired of torturing me, he paused for a while, took a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lit one and began smoking. Then he passed the remaining half to his friend. After a few puffs when the cigarette reached almost to its filter, the taller soldier sat down beside me and put the cigarette flame on my face and pushed it hard against my forehead with his two fingers and the thumb, even now you may see the sign of my burnt face. I was almost numb but still was happy inside me that they couldn’t find my brother.
When the two soldiers were tired of playing with my half-dead body, the shorter one, who was meaner than the other, took his gun and pointed right at my head.
In cold blood, very simply he pushed the trigger twice…
And shot me dead!
And when my head was bleeding badly and I was rewinding the scenes of the whole my life of yet 13 years, I was still happy that these two savage creatures were not able to find my little brother who was hiding in the room.
This is the story of how I was killed by two soldiers of Ahmad Shah Masoud in the AFSHAR district of Kabul in the early morning on February 11th, 1993 but this is not the whole story.
When the soldiers, the two murderers saw my blood flowing on the ground and my face was pale enough, they were sure that I was no more alive so they begin to search the house if they could find someone else or loot the house.
And when my soul was separating from my body, I felt very light, as light a ballon in the hand of a child, it was when I could easily move around and see how was feeling Rajab, I was still worried about him. The soldiers entered the room and searched everywhere, but they were blinded. I was just witnessing every move of them but couldn’t do anything; on the other hand, they couldn’t see me. In the end, they didn’t find Rajab, they just searched for the valuables; they found my mom’s gold jewelry, there was some cash in a cupboard near the big mirror which they grabbed happily and went out of the room. The taller one stood for a while beside my body and filled the peak of the dagger on the top of his rifle into my blood basin on the floor, then wrote with it on one of the walls of our house; YADGAR E GUL AGHA, which means “Gul Agha’s Remembrance”. Then they went out of the house trampling my body, whistling and singing and shooting in the air for they have killed a Hazara boy and looted their house.
After the soldiers were gone, I was happy that they didn’t find Rajab in the middle of the blankets and pillows and my soul was happy for having saved my little brother when I was alive. But when the soldiers got far from us, and when I felt to be alone with my brother, I went to hug him but I heard nothing from him. I went closer to him, but didn’t hear anything from him; I was just a witness, a passive witness not an active alive presence. Rajab did not move either. He was pale, and I was not sure if he was sleeping or…….
But he was out of breath, with his face smiley. Rajab was dead. He was not killed by those two fierce soldiers but died when he’d heard my moaning after I was shot.
He told me later that night when his soul joined me; finally, he was out of danger and out of fear…..
Thereafter I decided not to move out of this area, out of AFSHAR, just to keep an eye on what is going on in our area and to testify one day, who killed all those innocent people in the area including me and Rajab. Sometimes Rajab comes with me during my late-night walking in the dark in AFSHAR DARK STREETS.