Panjishir Province 1985
Hidden in the back of our cattle shed, I huddle beside my brother Amerji. Overhead I hear Mi-24’s rumble. Outside bombs fall, incendiaries disguised as children’s soft toys. They rain down from the copter bellies, in multitudes. My father is gone? My mother’s clothes are ripped from her body, caked in blood, around her lifeless remains stinking animal corpses lay. I can see my little sister’s charred form impaled on a bayonet. I hear guns fire in the distance.
‘Hold my hand Malika, tightly, we have to get out of here before they come back and find us. Come on!’
Big holes open in front of us, filled with bloody water and mud. The black terrain behind us is lit up by explosives. People, cattle, graze crops, chickens and geese run through the blazing farm lands. Flying debris litters our path as we keep on the run, toward the caves, in the hills to the north.
‘Ouch’, I scream with pain ‘my ankle Amerji.’
My hand slips through Amerji’s. I fall into a crater. In the bottom it’s so dark! I’m scared. I’m alone. Around me, war rages.
Aggressive male voices approach my hide out. Their heavy boots appear above the rim of the crater. Maybe they won’t see me? Then I feel cold steel dig me in my back. A soldiers eye’s meet mine. He’s in full battle gear. He’s big. He’s ugly. He yells to all his men behind him. Maybe ten or more. He grins as he grabs me. His foul breath smothers me. His men close in on me.