Ruminations of an Afghan Girl Burning to Death in a Hospital Bed

Life is a very jumbled mixture. The pain of it, if you’re awake and thinking, brings into your mind the happiest moments you can remember and transforms them into agony unless you resist bitterness with every drop of strength you have left, if not more. Physical pain makes clear-thinking and generous thinking more difficult, until death appears in front of you, and then the physical pain is as nothing.

I know that I’m not supposed to be bitter, and yet that somehow makes it harder not to be. When my father and sister and two cousins were blown into little pieces last year, it was the action of some distant office worker pushing a switch on a remote-controlled airplane. And I’m supposed to believe that they meant well. And this is supposed to make it better. But somehow it makes it worse.

The war that landed me in this hospital in Kunduz, along with all of the screaming men, women, and children around me whose voices have now faded into what I imagine the roar of the ocean must be, this war comes from a distant land that we are told means well. Yet it generates enemies through its horrors. It funds those enemies through its incompetence, corruption, and insistence on buying protection for its occupiers. It fights those enemies with such marvelous weaponry that it kills and kills and kills until many more enemies face it, and it goes on fighting from afar. I’m told the people in America believe the war ended, that it isn’t even happening, that it isn’t entering Year 15 in four days, while I will never enter Year 14.

I’ve only known war. I’ve only heard of peace. Now I will know only the peace of the dead. And I’ve been told that the dead go on with living somewhere else, but I’m told this by people whose other statements are nothing but lies, so I prefer to wait the endless moments of this hospital burning to the ground with me inside it, and then see for myself.

I understand that I am only an Afghan. I am not an American school student wrongly murdered. I am not an Israeli settler brutally blown up. I’m not a U.S. soldier or a Syrian or Ukrainian who was killed by the wrong side. But this is what makes my bitterness so hard to push back against. I’m an Afghan being bombed for women’s rights that I will never ever have a chance to exercise, because I will never ever be a woman. So, I must focus on my gratitude to those who have been kind to me, including those who left this world ahead of me to guide the way.

When I focus on the good in my life intensely, I can shut out any echoes of the evil. I can almost even come back to the evil with a sense of forgiveness and the realization that really, truly, the people who do these things must not know what they are doing. I understand that no one could really begin to understand my experience who isn’t me.

One Response

  1. I do not know your name, only that you are a young Afghan woman. My name is Vicky and I am a woman from Wales living in England.

    Your words are deeply moving and so very generous.

    Please know that there are many individuals in Britain who spend a lot of their lives trying to stop our governments from constantly war-mongering in places such as Iraq and Syria, and not least in your country of Afghanistan. I am ashamed to admit that English governments take no notice of the millions of people who try to move these war-mongers away from their medieval beliefs that war is somehow good and brave. It is not. It is cruel and destructive in every sense; as you have so eloquently outlined. Since a country like Britain knows and values above everything only the skills of warring, it wastes its people’s talents and puts millions of human beings in danger across the world. People like scientists & engineers in England have little option but to apply excellent skills in hideous military applications. Others flock thoughtlessly into mercenary jobs in the armed forces. Such a travesty of human talent.
    I could not help you and am so very ashamed and sorry.
    I can only wonder if you have died or if you’ve survived, with your desperately sad memories of your close family members dying and yourself in great physical and emotional pain. Whatever your fate, I hope you can accept my wish to embrace you woman to woman and to thank you for sharing your astonishing generosity of spirit in such a tragic situation.

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