Streaked across the tiled floor, the blood of four young gunslingers sent into Kabul’s Serena Hotel to shoot up the celebrations (kill count: 9) for New Year’s Eve in Afghanistan. They themselves were shot down by government soldiers.Their bodies were photographed where they fell, then dragged out of the hotel in the early hours of the morning after.

By now, Kabul’s Hotel-of-Terror is almost dog-bites-man. In June 2012, the Spozhmai Hotel was similarly shot to pieces at the start of another festive weekend (23 dead including five Taliban); in June 2011, the Intercontinental (21 dead). In the aftermath,the same spokesperson for the Afghan government, and the same spokesperson for the Taliban.
Not much for this youthful quartet to celebrate, knowing they would hardly live to see in the New Year.
With firearms hidden in their socks the Taliban boys had evaded the hotel’s security checks, hiding in the toilets until the time came to come out and blow the guests away.
A photo of their shoes – two pairs black, two pairs brown, all of them chunky, hunky things – shows they were not from Son of Rambo or Lord of the Flies. These youths were much older, if none the wiser.
Was there the smell of festive cooking, wafting in every time a hotel guest came in to use the loo? Or nothing but cleaning fluid and abrasive mutterings that the toilet stalls were still occupied; just what the hell was going on?
Just how the hell did you sit it out, boys, those hours of waiting for your lives to be flushed away?
What a waste. You could have been getting changed in there, waiting to go on stage in a rock’n’roll band; first night nerves every one night stand.
Easy to imagine a youthful play of tender and tough, of Mercutio’s contempt for his own life as well as others’; to recall Raskolnikov, even Alex and his Droogs. But for all I know, your actions had nothing to do with the modern condition. Perhaps you hated Hotel Mayhem – Serena: is someone having a laugh? – not because it was cheesy and a little bit Dubai; more that you were good ol’ country boys whose idea of the human race only stretches as far as your own clan, along with its racing horses and fighting dogs.
Whatever the reason, whether or not you reasoned it at all, in youthful haste you’ve already left your one and only mark on the world: famous for 15 hours, topping the Reuters list early one day; next day washed away into the archives.

And nothing else will ever become of you.