The houses were destroyed, the voices were not heard, the birds announced the forbidding, and the sky looked red and yellow like the color of blood. Maybe the sky was crying. There was no indication of a city and its houses. The bombings had torn apart Kabul.
The bodies were hidden under the muddy houses and soil. The earth was full of humans and it was not eager to swallow them. The calmness was full of unsaid words. It seemed that nature and humanity had both gone to sleep. Even breathing was tough. Yes all of humanity—the houses, trees, flowers, and grass—were not able to endure further the sound of bombshells and blasts.
It was the New Year in March. But there was no celebration of the New Year. Our New Year’s Day is usually full of joy and entertainment with children in parks, on lawns and slides.
Usually on the New Year, the first day of spring the houses are made colorful and neat. There is excitement. Everyone has new clothes and joyful faces, nature is green with growing blossoms, and the flowers pour their perfumes into the earth.
However, that day did not look like the New Year. There were no good scents; the unbearable smoke disguised the city landscape. The smoke of bombs turned the bright face of our city dark and awkward, stifling and hazardous. When I saw the frightful view I felt I could no longer move. I felt like a statue in the ruins.
Gradually I went into a deep reverie as I remembered that only yesterday, people were shopping for the New Year with passion in each face. Now that was all gone. Just the day before, I had rushed to the fruit and vegetable shops. My mother had bought a pair of new shoes and a new dress for me, and when we returned home, nature seemed cheerful; the weather was pleasant, the singing of birds cuddled our ears, and the breeze was gentle. A girl had bounded up the steps to our house with my mother excited to celebrate our New Year tomorrow.
Suddenly the sound of a blasting bomb changed everything and the people were frightened.
This happened a long time ago when I was a little girl. The Soviet Union was responsible for that bombing. I remember some of the victims shouting and a small boy whose leg was cut off and he was groaning. Everyone wanted to leave the area and I remember seeing an old woman so stressed she was swatting her face and head; her young son was injured and she could not carry him alone. She was begging for help, but there was no ear to hear her voice. It looked like doomsday and I felt that the sky trickled blood instead of rain.
We hurried to get home. The journey was so long and my steps were so small, like the steps of an ant. I felt my body transform into two eyes only seeking to follow the path home. It seemed too difficult, like it might take many years. I was unable to run, but my mother pulled me toward our house and finally, we got home. I was like a bird struck by thunder, but at home I was finally safe.
All during the night the bombing was heard from different parts of the city. As I closed my eyes it was near morning. The sight of the open window woke me up.
The room looked different. I rubbed my eyes and stared around the room and out the windows. I thought I was still dreaming, but I had to accept the reality—the war had changed our home and our city to a disastrous ruin.
The outcome of yesterday’s blasting had become tomorrow’s reality. Surely that New Year was our adversity. During the years that followed we tried to leave, but there were many obstacles in our way and hence those years passed in illiteracy and fear under the Taliban. And the bombs continue to rain on Afghanistan today.
Photo of rusting and graffitied Soviet tanks outside Kabul by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kenny Holston.