A memoir by Ahmad Murtaza
The author is currently writing a memoir about growing up in Afghanistan. This is an excerpt from his book which will be published at a later date.
Everyone rushed to their houses looking worried and frightened. Azizullah, a friend of mine, was called home by his mother and I walked with him. His mother wore a very long green dress and her hands were full of dough. She tried moving her hair under her veil and got flour on her nose. Azizullah laughed and pointed at her nose. She had a motherly frowny and pushed him and told me that maybe he should go to my house and live with me and my brothers.
I headed home. It was nearly two o clock in the afternoon and the streets were empty near the river. Only some small birds were singing songs and hunting their food but even though the river lapped at its banks, which was always very lovely, that day was roaringly differently. Many kids were disappearing at that time from Kabul city and every night the TV warned people to report to the government any suspicious person they saw on the streets. It made me very afraid.
I had some marbles in my pocket and a slingshot on my neck. I walked quickly toward home. When I turned down the alley where my house was located, I came face to face with a person wearing a yellow burqa. Her face was not clearly visible, and she started walking towards me. I stepped back, my heart pounding. My legs felt numb and weak, and I couldn’t run. I was about to lay down and wait for whatever would happen to me. The person in the burqa, who sounded like a man, called to me with a strange voice saying that I should not be afraid, that I was free to go wherever I wanted to. I wanted to believe what he said, but then the guy crept nearer to me.
I spun around and ran, the guy running behind me. I screamed and ran until I reached my grandmother’s house. Fortunately, the door of their house was open and I could get inside. The house was very big, and I ran through it looking for someone, anyone, to help me. Everyone was taking a nap except my grandmother who was praying. When she finished her prayers, I told her what had happened and cried. She took her cane and called all my uncles who came fast. Grandmother told them to find the guy who wanted to kidnap her grandchild. They went out but they could not find the guy. The only thing they found was a long dirty yellow burqa.
At night when my father came from his shop my mother told him the whole story. He asked us not to go out alone after that and of course, I agreed. Soon after a very loud and horrifying sound of explosions happened near our area and after that the gun fire and rocket launching started and we all moved to the corner room and hid ourselves in that tiny space.
The fighting did not finish until evening. My father called my uncles and told them that they should prepare to make bunkers in their homes. After a very tense fight in the morning, a market where people were buying their necessities was closed and some so-called soldiers were shouting at people to leave the area. No one knew what was really going on. After some days nobody could stay for even a minute near the market because of the bad smell. Everyone was talking about it, but no one knew the reason. Finally, people entered the market and discovered that a lot of people were killed, butchered in the market, and their rotting bodies were what was smelling badly. This was the first of a series of human tragedies.
About the author: Ahmad Murtaza Ahmadi is an Afghan currently living in Kabul. He started studying anthropology and politics when he was in the 5th class at Marefat Private High School and gradually became more eager to study. He graduated from Kateb University with a degree in Political Science in 2011. He has been working in the Ministry of Higher Education since 2012 and teaches English at Star Educational Society part time.