The War: Afghanistan
I was of two years when we left Afghanistan and migrated to Pakistan. Since then we are living in Peshawar but have visited my country every since and then. My father always wanted us to know where we belong to, and never to forget our own culture and values. Even in Taliban's reign he used to take us to Afghanistan, to our village in our vacations. That may sound very dangerous but i remember the time to be the most memorable and precious time of my life; With each ruined building there was a story and everyone I met there, they were survivors of the war and have been through a lot of such sufferings that could seem insufferable to any human being. Today i feel like these real life stories are worth sharing.
Bombarded houses during war
My Mum's stories!
"It was a very strange time. Your aunt always used to add some humor even in the most serious times. When we were scared for our lives one day she suddenly started smiling and said, "Imagine what if we survive all this and there will be a day when we will tell these stories about the war to our children". I replied her "Do you seriously think we can get out of this alive" we really did not expect that we will live this long. And see there I am telling it to you people.
The war was among the two major ideologies of communists and religious groups( known as "Ikhwanian" in those times)and people had to choose one of them to survive. If you chose to be a communist the Ikhwanian would have killed you and if you selected the side of your religion then the communists would have taken you to there most scary punishments of ultimate death.
The communists used to brain wash the youngsters turning them against there own family telling them to fight for the ideology of 'Lenin' and all their lessons. There were some in-laws of your uncle. The boy turned to be a communist., when his father found about him, beat him like anything just like a typical believer would do. After a few days he sent his wife to her father's home and spied on his Father that he is with the religious groups working against the communist groups. That day the helicopter flied on above his home and fired the home to ashes. His bad luck that he killed not his father as he succeded to escape,but his own son as his wife arrived back sooner than his expectation back to his home. The man still lives. I have heard he came to Pakistan with his family to seek shelter from his own son. This was a very common practice. University boys, when they were not wise enough to think wisely about themselves and their families would either side with the communists or religious groups. Each mornings, your fathers tells off his university, that a roll call of special students were called off and then the guys would just disappear. Some said they were killed while other say they were taken to be trained as soldiers to work for communists.
Your uncle sided with the religious groups as a leader to protect his family. It was a very tough decision as one had to be of one group to save yourself and knowing that he was fighting for the religion, our whole family was in danger. Your Hameed uncle was even caught for that. Oh i remember that time. Nobody told us anything about it. we all were thinking that he is in hostel and up to his university and classes. He at that time, had completed his four years and it was his last year of the five year bachelor program of technical engineering. I wish he could have completed his bachelors degree. He was caught to convince him to spy on his own brother. He was too smart, he said yes to them and got back to home after two days. when he Got back everyone at home was too happy and we were a bit surprised that why is everyone acting so strange, Hameed haven't came home for the first time. But then when we got to know what actually happened scared the hell out of us. He could have been killed, they had killed thousands before like this. And then he had to leave his university and ran off to Pakistan because if he was caught once again, we wouldn't have seen him alive again.
I remember that time when our home was fired, it looks like yesterday how i hid your uncles and ran for my life!. We all were sitting in the room and your uncles were home when we heard the Russians army.That noise of their arrival was always scary. We knew that they came for your uncle.So when everyone else had to leave the home, i stayed til I could hid them. Every home at those times had a hidden underground shelter of which nobody would know. Ours was under the kitchen. I put a lot of fodder and grass on them to make sure they won't be found. I had heard of some verses that i still believe in so much, that it could protect you from any danger. I read them on the house and prayed Allah to protect them and us. The rockets started. Seven rockets were fired on our house. All the other family members had already gone to the nearby village and it was just me left at home to hide my brothers. It was me now to get back to the nearby village in such firings and rocket showers.I still remember how i ran. I felt like my feet weren't mine. As it was curfew and no one was allowed out so they started firing on me too. I ran off the bridge to the river and to the village.(smiling she said) Sometimes when i see these Hollywood action movies it reminds me of that day. I really don't know how i managed to escape that. After the forces went away, everyone in the village was sighing that our home has been shot and there is not a tiny possibility of any living person inside. That was the hardest time. Our hearts were shivering and scared like hell and I was just praying for my brothers to come out alive off the shelter.
The next morning after passing a night of fear not knowing how is our next morning going to be, we came back to our home. It was Allah's mercy upon us, they bombarded the whole house but fortunately not the shelter and your uncles were all alive. At the time no one expected them to be alive. All the villagers were crying and sighing that our home is turned to ashes and no one could possibly come out of it alive. But there they were, perfectly safe and sound with mercy of Allah."
My mum's cousin story
"Mateen had a tough life since his childhood. He lost his mother and was left to a not very kind father. He is a great man. He have helped us in all the bad times. Indeed a very sincere man. When his house was bombarded he lost his daughter. And his Brother's family which was a heartbreaking incident. His brother Hakeem along with his pregnant wife, his son Najeeb in his mother's lap, his elder son Waheed and two daughters were at their home when the helicopters bombarded their house. Waheed was able to walk so frightened from the noise of firing he ran and hid himself somewhere. Najeeb was in his mother's lap when she was dead. After the helicopters left, Waheed and Najeeb in his mother's lap, were alive. Everyone else was dead. The father, mother and sisters of the two boys; all were dead. ( Waheed and Najeeb are still living and not just living but living a happy married life with their own children in Kabul. His uncle, Mateen, educated them and brought them up like his own sons)
Mateen was once caught too. But his bad luck that the army car he was caught in exploded by pressure sensitive bomb on its way. All the prisoners in the car died. it was thought to be a miracle that he did not die and survived the blast but he got real injuries on his leg. The time when we found about him. Your father was very upset. In those war situations finding a doctor was not less than risking your own life. When he was brought to a nearby hospital and a doctor that we knew of, was requested for his treatment. His leg injuries got worse day by day and he was diagnosed of gangrene.I remember how your father and we all at home were so upset about him. The doctor said that there are very few chances of his getting well and said that may be they would have to cut his leg. Your uncle(who is a pharmacist) used to wash his wounds without anesthetic. He would rub his flesh with alcohol and bandage in the room where no one else was allowed. He used to shout with pain and all his body sweat and tremble by just knowing that it is the time for cleaning his wounds. Indeed it is a miracle that he survived because his injuries made us hopeless. (Mateen uncle lives a happy life today with a big family and lots of children in Muhammad agha village in Logar province of Afghanistan)"
We have this tradition that on 40th day of the birth of the child the mother along with her child visits her family which is called "salwekhti" or fortieth.
"Due do the very bad war situation in Karte-naw i couldn't get out on your fortieth. When you were of three months i could not bear any more at home and I wanted to get out. there were rumours of a war/ fight between the two parties of Gulbudin and Gilamjam. I wish they all go to hell and never rest in peace. Your father dropped me to your uncle's apartment and got back. And then the next day the rumors turned out to be true. It was firing all over the place. The nearby neighbors said that Karte-naw have been destroyed completely. It shook off my heart that why i left it there or i could have stopped your father of going back. A tough time indeed it was, may God never bring a time like that ever again. The firing started at our side as well and in that small apartment of your uncle we didn't know where to hide ourselves. The bullets showered in the rooms, on the cupboards,on the shelves, on the walls and you never knew where would the next bullet go through. Here i was worried about your elder brother who couldn't stay quiet and still and then the biggest worries of my life that how is everyone at home, your father and my in-laws. I was regretting why i came there at the first place, leaving them behind.
After two days seize fire was declared. I wished nothing but to see your father. When the firing got a bid slow, your aunt told me that your father have arrived to take me with him. How happy i was to hear that!
When i returned back to home, my room was all burnt due to firing. My bed, bed-sheets, curtains, and my whole room, nothing but black ashes and black walls.
It was then when we decided to shift to an apartment and leave the house as it was very dangerous. Living in apartment looked like a better and safe idea."
Our arrival to Pakistan
"It was your Mateen uncle who helped us get out of there. We were there in our apartment and the firing and fight of the groups started. No one was allowed to go out. It was already proclaimed to stay inside your houses. But the houses were not safe either. Firings and bullets, on the wall, on the bed, under the chair; you could never know where would the next bullet pass through. And your father decided to leave the town. At that time, I don't know how, Mateen arranged a car for us.Don't know how he even managed to pass and come to us but he did.Later on we found out that he had to cross many dead zone areas to reach Makroryan (the apartments are called makroryan) I was not ready to come out as i thought that it is impossible to survive all this firing and rockets shower. Mateen said" everyone is out, I just came, everyone is leaving the town , just don't worry, it is not that unsafe as it seems to us." I thought he may be telling the truth, But he wasn't. We had to get out of there as the situation was getting worse. I was expecting your younger brother and at that time it was the only way to get us to a safer place.
When we moved out. The roads were all empty and just the sounds and noise of war. Thank to him that we managed to get out of there. And after that we decided to leave the country, and come to Pakistan.That was the worst time of all. My brothers and your grandma had already arrived to Pakistan. It was a very tough decision and no one at that time even wanted to leave their own country to a complete strange place. Your grandfather, father's whole family was not willing to come to Pakistan. But then they had to. When we were leaving we just intended to save ourselves from the war and who would have known that we are going to stay this long in here. Because it wasn't just the war then. People of all sorts got into power. Groups of Gilamjam entered houses and take whatever they want. When they got to our home i remember, took all my jewelry, my wedding jewelry, the ones your father brought me and all that i had, all the expensive household items, even the floors, furniture and carpets. The house was all upside down after they were gone. They did not left a single thing unchecked. And this was not just with us but they looted almost everyone and every home.
Life goes on!
Russia ruled about twenty years and they left the country on hands of the ignorant rulers. Who were once a labor with no education and no wisdom were made landlords and given posts in big political positions. This was the main reason that even when they left, the ignorance and bad leadership took Afghanitsan to an even worse political war and after them for five years groups, who called themselves Jihadists but intended only to loot people, with no knowledge of the religion nor culture nor values, ruled Afghanistan. After the Jihadists then it was the Taliban reign who whirled and squeezed out all that could have remained after all this suffering from the people of Afghanistan.
In the twenty years many people lived and many died. Life did not stop. My mother, a village girl, who studied her school till 10th grade and could not carry out further studies. But my father did his bachelors in economics. They got married, They had their children. Like them many formed families and lived their lives even at the worst times of the history.