Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 38

Your mother’s family lived in Kabul. We lived in the village in Watan. The Soviets ruled the country. We had to go to Kabul to bring over your mother for the wedding. The elders wouldn’t let us travel. They feared we would be harmed by the Soviets, or the Mujahideen or get caught in the cross-fire. We could not take the young men with us because we feared they would be conscripted by the Soviets and the government, and sent to the war-front. My son-in-law Aatay Ali Jan had already completed his military service. He accompanied us. We had to go to Kabul, and we did.

My sister’s husband, the Qareedar saw us off at the Shilbitu crossing:

What should we do with your kids if the Soviets come?

I really did not know what to say:

Take them wherever you go. Hide them somewhere.

d7684d5334a161630c02e18373d0bac341235374cdaa0c4f298e16dfa2421e91We left for Kabul. There were four of us in the car: I, My youngest child, Aatay Ali Jan and the driver. As we reached the main road, I noticed there were other, many other cars on the road ahead of us, and behind us.

At a place just past Ghazni, the cars diverged off the main road, and stopped. Turns out there was a Soviet military convoy passing that area. All other traffic had to move out of the way. They convoy came. There were soldiers, and trucks, and cars, and tanks, and more trucks, and more tanks, and more soldiers. There were tanks everywhere. They also had dogs on leash. Then they stopped. Some of the soldiers pointed the guns at the cars, and the soldiers with the dogs approached us. We were terrified. The dogs sniffed around car to car, and then they all returned to their trucks. The were looking for mines or bombs or guns. They didn’t find anything. As fast as they had come, they left, may be for Kandahar. The soldiers in the last vehicle waved at us. Perhaps they were Afghans.

We continued on. A short drive later our group of cars were waved at and stopped by a man on the road:

There are Soviet tanks ahead. The Soviets will kill you. Come with me and I will protect you in my village.

The passengers in the other vehicles refused to go. The driver said the man might be a bandit, who would take us to his place, kill us all, and take all our belongings. We refused his invitation. He wasn’t very happy about it. He cursed us. We drove onwards to Kabul but did not see any tanks or any more Soviets.

We got to Kabul, stayed a few days, and began the trip to bring your mother home. We came across another convoy of tanks on the way back. We were terrified, but thankfully nothing happened. Despite our fears, the Soviet didn’t hurt us. We returned home safely. We had a small party, and that was that, your parents were married.


 
*Watan = Homeland, Countryside
*Aatay = Father
*Qareedar = Village chief

Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 32

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On my trip last year, I returned to the village to see who it was that lived on our land.
I was with your auntie. We walked into the old orchard, and began looking around to see what had changed. We saw a little girl. The expression on her face said she didn’t like us there.

What are you doing?

I smiled:

You have a beautiful orchard here, dokhtarem. We are just having a look.

She nodded but said nothing. I noticed her hiding behind the trees, and following us around the farm.
We stopped by the little stream in Lingaa, when the girl came to us with another older girl. The older girl was her sister. She greeted us, and recognized your auntie. She asked us to come over for tea. We were busy, so I promised to stop by the following day.

I visited our home the following evening. I met the two girls, and their mother. I didn’t see any men. I looked around, and thought about the old days.

I had tea with them, and told them our story.
I asked them theirs.
The lady said they were from Urozgan.

We had a house, a place like yours to call home. We had a farm and orchard.
The Taliban attacked. We didn’t have the weapons or the power to fight back.
They killed some of the villagers to terrorize us. We were terrorized. We fled into the Hazara mountains, and after weeks, ended up here.
The Taliban now occupy our village, farms and home. We are too fearful to return.



*dokhtarem = My daughter