23 June 2007

Life Is Not Cheap

"Afghan life is not cheap and it should not be treated as such." [Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan]

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the bestselling author of The Kite Runner

"A whistling.
Laila dropped her books at her feet. She looked up to the sky. Shielded her eyes with one hand.
Then a giant roar.
Behind her, a flash of white.
The ground lurched beneath her feet.
Something hot and powerful slammed into her from behind. It knocked her out of her sandals. Lifted her up. And now she was flying, twisting and rotating in the air, seeing sky, then earth, then sky, then earth. A big burning chunk of wood whipped by. So did a thousand shards of glass, and it seemed to Laila that she could see each individual one flying all around her, flipping slowly end over end, the sunlight catching in each. Tiny, beautiful rainbows.
Then Laila struck the wall. Crashed to the ground. On her face and arms, a shower of dirt and pebbles and glass. The last thing she was aware of was seeing something thud to the ground nearby. A bloody chunk of something."
Earlier today, I finished reading Khaled Hosseini's latest novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Laila's story may only be fiction, but it makes the Afghan President's criticism of "indiscriminate and unprecise" operations by NATO and US-led forces, which he says have killed 90 civilians in just over a week, all the more poignant.


Anonymous said...

What a gripping and fast moving tale. The writer has clearly experienced the type of events written about.
It brought back war-time memories of doodlebugs and rockets, being with 200 other children and 10 staff in the school basement and hearing a rocket explode nearby. At that moment all children started to scream because they thought their house had been bombed and their Mother killed.
Likewise the Mothers all ran as one to the school thinking the school had been hit, killing their offspring.
At least the vast majority of us did not have to put up with regular beatings etc by the 'man of the house', nor watch our Mothers treated with contempt.
A brave man to put pen to paper in this way and open our eyes to what REALLY happened 'behind closed doors' in that Country where life was and is worth so little.
Long may English/British law reign in our own land!
Ex-London pensioner.