Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Zendagi Migzara

It was as normal of a day as any other. 5 of the guys that I work with and I were coming back from the gym on one of the Army bases here in town. I remember the time very clearly because little Joe asked, "What time is it?" I looked at my watch and it was 5:39pm on Sunday, the 29th of August. We pulled into the front of our complex, and just as we were stepping out of the car we heard an earth shattering explosion, followed nearly simultaneously by shattering glass and falling debris. We were all carrying our rifles, so we peaked out into the street, at which point we heard about 4 or 5 shots of sporadic gunfire, so we ducked behind cover. When we were sure the gunfire had stopped, we took up positions on the road, some of us facing towards the explosion, some of us facing away from it. Our little posse of kids was all around us, so we told them to RUN (most of them did following the blast - they're not exactly strangers to explosions in their town.)

I knew it had to be the other house owned by our company, located about 400 meters down the road, based on where I saw smoke and from where the explosion came from. All we could do at this point was block the road in case of a secondary attack, but as it is with most car bombings, the attacks are over a split second after they've begun. There was no gunfire exchanged; the gunfire was either cooked off rounds after the explosion or people freaking out after the fact. There was no fight, just carnage.

We found out the names of the guys who died in the blast, and since we support all the programs out here we knew them. I'm not gonna lie and pretend like I knew them well, like we were "comrades," or that I even particularly had any affinity towards them, but they certainly didn't deserve to meet their end like that. It sounds cliche, but I suppose there's a reason cliches are used so much.

Today I visited the site for the first time, and I've never seen anything like it. The sheer amount of damage done to the house that we (initially) spent so much time in is appalling. Places we stood, places we relaxed, let down our guard at, are completely demolished. Based on where the crater is, the person in the car could not have gotten any closer to the house. They simply drove up, a few guys probably got out to tell them not to park there, and that was it. What remained of the people who were killed by the blast was covered up by 1ft x 3ft pieces of cloth. It smelled like rotten, charred meat in front of the building.

Beyond that I don't really know what to say. Something like this happens and you expect some sort of conflicting emotions, some sort of Faulknerian or Normal Mailer-esque reactions to the situation, but I didn't experience anything like that. Maybe this is because I wasn't there during or right afterwards, or I didn't lose any close friends in the blast. They have a saying here that I recently read in a book called The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - Zendagi Migzara - Life goes on.

The blasts didn't change my views of the Afghan people at all. Unlike what you see on CNN in Iraq, there was no rioting or cheering like it was some sort of sporting event. There certainly were a lot of people milling about, but they stayed a respectable distance and observed quietly. I don't feel that the bombers were representative of the Afghan people, and from what I've seen and what I've gotten from talking to the people here, they are making an effort to get back on their feet in their own time. They're not sitting around and blaming everyone for their problems - they're history is such that they simply rebuild, go on, and survive.

Zendagi Migzara.

For the CNN story on the blasts, you can check out:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well written buddy, kyotskete. ~G

9:56 AM  
Blogger That Guy said...

Great description bro. Was gonna post bits and pieces of our convo on IM into my blog and then decided not to hoping you would write about it. Thank god your ok huh?

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's very nice. Truly, life goes on, no matter what.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

came across ur blog..when i had read the book,the kite runner by khaled hosseni i was impressed and this little phrase got stuck in my mind.interesting blog!well written.

1:01 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was really astonished when I read the little phrase in Hosseini´s book...I wasn´t paying much attention to that part when that words came of the book...glittering, shouting.
Sometimes you forgot about the real meaning of life, and its hard.
But remember "zendagi migzara!"

4:15 PM  

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