She Was Kafir

Ibi as he is called, short for Ibrahim, just celebrated his 9th birthday along with his best buddy Ajai, who both live in a modest two-room apartment just west of Shir Ali Kahn Road on the south side of Kabul.

Ibi’s mother worked as a translator for the Afghanistan government; she spoke english because her sister, who lives in the United States, taught her how over her phone. On a normal day, Ibi and Ajai would keep themselves busy after doing their daily studies playing kid games along the tires and junkpiles that line the edge of the nearby cliff on the edge of town. 

Ibi and Ajai would sometimes spend hours lying side-by-side on the grassy cliffs-edge watching the jet fighters fly over head, many of them from Bagram where the soldiers from the United States lived. Ibi promised he would be a pilot one day, flying his own fighter jet. Ajai told his best friend he wanted to be a doctor, since a doctor once saved his mother’s life when she became ill from fever. Both boys had high hopes for their country, and since neither boy had memory of what Afghanistan was like prior to U.S. occupation, both were filled with hopes their dreams might someday come true.

When August 15th 2021 came Ibi knew the dreams they had were no longer possible. The young lad had been told about the Taliban; His Mama warned him to “never show them disrespect, to stay clear and tell mother if they tried to get him to join them.”

Little Ibrahim thought that since he was also Muslim, what could these long-bearded men do to him? He wasn’t a threat. Ibi didn’t fear them but he knew to keep his distance. Always his Mama told him Ibi, “you do not want them to know you.” 

When the U.S. military evacuated Afghanistan, Ibrahim’s mother cried like he had not seen her do so since Papa had been killed years earlier by a roadside bomb. When Ibi asked Mama what troubled her, she only pointed at the television as an old man with white hair was talking. He later learned the old man was the U.S. president, a man named Biden, and Ibrahim was told by his mother things would change because of him.

For a few days all seemed normal except for the fact that his mother no longer went to work in the morning, and school had been temporarily closed. Ibi and Ajai were told not to leave the apartment unless Mama said so. Until one day when Mama told Ibrahim to fetch his slippers and go to the nearby market to get some eggs and milk.

Ajai and Ibi knew the neighborhood well. To them it was a game to see if they could sneak to the store, six blocks away, without being seen. It was quite early and the sun had hardly risen above the horizon. Ibi said goodbye to Mama and he and Ajai were on their way.

It would be the last time Mama would see her nine-year old smile. Taliban soldiers had spotted the two boys and quickly forced them to identify themselves and their parents. When Ajai confessed and gave the soldiers the information they wanted, the two boys were then forced at gunpoint to escort the soldiers back to Ibrahim’s apartment.

When Mama was called out and saw the two boys being held by the two soldiers, tears filled her eyes. She knew they had only moments left. She pleaded with them to let the boys go. Ibrahim could see the fear in Mama’s eyes, the tears rolling down her cheeks as she pled with the soldiers for mercy. 

And in a split second Ibrahim heard the sound of a long sheath being pulled from the garment of the solder standing next to his best friend, out of the corner of the young lad’s eye his last image was of the soldier raising his elbow and striking down upon the neck of Ajai; Ibi quickly looked away at his mother as she shrieked in terror. 

And then silence and darkness.

Taliban Soldiers celebrating the beheading of a local police officer in Kabul, Afghanistan September 15, 2021 (AP)

Ibrahim would not see the conclusion of this tragedy, he would not witness his mother being dragged into the street in front of all to witness as the soldiers shouted to the bystanders to obey Allah, and with this her throat had been slit, her body left to be devoured by stray dogs who whiffed the scent of fresh blood draining in the streets.

What has been told has been seen and continues to be seen everyday in Afghanistan, – and what will become usual fare as hell unleashes against the innocents we left behind.

Mama’s crime, that she would be forced to witness her son and the neighborhood beheaded in full view? 

She helped translate U.S. documents for the Afghanistan government. She was kafir.

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