An explosion of a gasoline tank set off by the Taliban on July 4th, 2012 in Kabul city, Afghanistan killed more than 200 people, including my cousin, Noor Ullah Ghaznawi, and four of his friends. Noor survived the initial blast only to die after twenty-two days. He told this story of what happened to his cousin, my brother, who accompanied him to the hospital in Islam Abad, Pakistan.
Noor began. “The whole night, under the living stars, I slept and dreamt calmly, without worry. I did not even wake with the sun. Later, I heard my mom’s soft steps as she came to my room and called out to me to wake. A fear of lateness shivered through my body. Quickly I stood and in just five minutes I was on the way to work.
Because I was late, I did not ride my motorcycle; instead, I joined four of my friends in their car who also worked as mechanics at the United Motors in the Poly Charkhi (Sarak Jalal Abad), Kabul. Looking out the window of the car on the way to work all I could see was devastation from decades of war. I felt ashamed of the past, but hopeful that I was seeing a new history taking place and I thought of the role I might play in bringing about change in Afghanistan.
I worked from early morning till the closing eyes of the evening sun. When I was finished, I put my down my goggles proud of what I had accomplished that day, and joined my friends once again for the return trip home. I sat near the open window in the front; three of my other friends were in the back of the car. And the one who was driving was still outside, talking on the phone. Then there was a deep silence surrounding us, something much bigger than anything. We did not understand it. The silence kept rising until it was broken with a deadly explosion sound. There was then, a dull flame opening its mouth toward the sky, like a volcanic eruption from the heart of the earth. Everywhere it was dark. Then the land was covered with firestones and those stones started flying above our heads.
In a while, I saw many things and many people dancing and clapping with the superior flames of all times. Slowly, they were holding my hands, kissing me on my cheeks, and touching my back. No pain, no harsh, no anger, no fear, no love, no hatred. All I could see was the flames coming toward me. I could see the same flames following my friends. They were wounded, tore up into flames. I followed the flames; I got one in one hand, and the other in my second hand both friends and flames were around me.
The hollering fires snatched my shoulders, and I kept running, competing, and screaming. Until I stopped, looked back and forgot all what happened in a second ago. The fire was licking my flesh inhospitably, and the pain started waking in my whole soul. Everything was black, sky was brown, the sun was lost, and dead humans became coals. I touched the ground with my forehead, and there I saw people dragging me to the hospital. I remembered it well after few hours that; it was July 4, 2012, just in between my young years.”
My brother saw Noor’s story started ending. He saw that with the love of fire, Noor was burning with pain; all the flames captured his soul. Noor lived in bandages. His skin was torn off. He did not dare to scream back to pain. He swallowed all the complaints and expectations from the nourishing young and strong body that he had once. His pain was not the only reason for his death; those hundred burning souls haunting his memory killed him as well. My brother said he could see the tears all over Noor’s face and he could hear the fear in Noor’s voice as Noor told him his story.
Noor did not know that he was going to die so soon, with the last 22 days in pain resting on the bed of a hospital far from home. If he had known it, he could have tried to fill the jar of his life with the pleasant moments. Noor was a 22 years old boy from a very middle class people of my country, Afghanistan. He just worked hard to live an ordinary life with a bigger dream of getting admission to a better university for his higher education, but in between the years he died much younger.
He said “my life-story is not only mine but hundreds of those being tortured in the terrible flames of the fire flying in the air, blasting through the pebbles, and with the slightest length of that day’s air.” He understood the pain and death of life in Afghanistan. He could not see only himself but hundreds of those of us filling the lane with their burnt bodies and soundless screams. It was him, one of those youngsters running after life’s survival works,
The story of Noor and his four friends is another story of the decades of violence in Afghanistan. These types of stories take place in every day life of Afghans. However, their message and hopes remain silent throughout history. No one hears their voices and no one pays attention to their silence. When they are alive, they do not get the chance to speak. And when they die, they are forgotten. Their family say, “Allah did not give them longer age to live on the earth.” Their friends say, “my poor un-established and failed friend.” The presidential people pray for them and call them, “the young martyrs of our country.” The Media does not count the dead, for they are ordinary citizens. However, I ask why should we put the blame on Allah. Or why should we call them “failed friend?” Why does a country let their young generations die without their own consent or knowing about their deaths? Cannot we just bring forward this part of our country’s misery and try to find solutions for other Afghan youths, whose dreams are only dwelling in dark places?
In between the years of hope and dreams, we are losing the dreamers and hopeful generation of our times. Lets not forget to help them survive and serve their country in the future. Do not let them live in darkness and silence.