I utterly abhor war, yet a Human Rights Watch report got me thinking about the stories that are never told. This is derived from that same report. A short piece that I felt needed to be told. Because nobody deserves to lose their childhood innocence in such a way.
‘Papa! Look, look!’ The small boy took up the old man’s hand and led him across the small mud hut. ‘Here, here’ he guided his hand across the wall at the other side ‘can you feel it, papa, can you? I’ve been writing, Mama says I’m getting good!’
‘I can feel it, I am very proud of you.’ The blind man allowed his son to guide his hand across the language symbols etched into the wall with a blunt knife. He shed a tear of happiness and the boy led him back to his place on the floor. ‘Mama’ the old man addressed his wife ‘how did he do that? With a stick?’ Silence took the air and the the boy’s mother leaned down and placed a baklava in his hand, then motioned for him to leave.
‘Woman?’ the old man grew impatient. ‘From a soldier. An American.’ The words fell from her mouth like lumps of coal.
The boy ran out into the village, chewing as he did so. Through the main street he went before coming to a stop at the well that provided the village with its water. American’s patrolled the streets, checking doors and windows and smiling at the villagers, whom continued on only bowing their heads. Muhammad ran up to the soldiers ‘I’m spider-man’ he grinned as he pressed his middle fingers to his palm and flung his hands forward. Right, then left as if he were to swing from the low rooftops. ‘Swing yourself home little boy, it isn’t safe here.’ One of soldiers replied and waved him off.
Muhammad ran back through the streets flinging his arms above his head, left then right and grinning until his cheeks hurt. He came round the last corner on to the dying field where his house lay situated toward the back. Onto the field he stepped and an explosion ripped through the mud house before him. A fire ball of immeasurable proportions was launched into the air, raining flames down onto the field below. The sound of the fighter jet was lost to the explosion as it disappeared in the direction of the stratosphere ’mission accomplished’ the pilot repeated into his microphone.
The orphaned boy fell to his knees. The destruction the 2,000 pound bomb had left in its wake rained down around him, falling stars of fire. It was minutes until his eyes burst, then only seconds until he was pulled from the ground snuggled into a woman’s chest. The world rushed passed him, the sand, the screams, the flames, the truck, the hospital. Then more screams as he was lain down in the corridor of an overcrowded hospital thirty minutes from his home village of Kapisa.