February 7, 2016
March 22, 2014
Did he die like a lamb? Six months ago, having fought ‘like a miracle’ when his home town in Afghanistan was besieged by the Taliban – so says his uncle the pro-government militiaman, boy soldier Wasil Ahmad was feted, garlanded, photographed carrying a taped-up, hand-me-down AK47, and widely shared.
Does this mean Wasil was also fated, set up, all but sacrificed to the Taliban? Who came like priests only completing the ritual when they duly shot and slaughtered the wee boy walking unwillingly to primary school in Tirin Kot, capital of the southern province of Oruzgan.
But reports of Wasil Ahmad’s death may have grossly exaggerated the distance between his chronological age – 10 – and the paramilitary shoe-size he’d already stepped into.
Despite comments to the contrary in Western media, the police uniform which the boy soldier appears in, was not too big for him. In those photographs, widely shared, his head is not too small for the matching helmet. Eyes, nose and the set of his mouth are in proportion – well-balanced – with the rifle sitting comfortably on his arm.
In August’s local hero pictures and again in what appears to be a photo of his body shortly before burial last week, this boy’s countenance seems equally untroubled.
Strange to say but perhaps there’s less to be frightened of at 10 years old and under – before Consequences kick in and we are drummed with uncertainty and impermanence.
What simple innocence (we think) we hear in ‘Once In Royal David’s City’ – twilight on Christmas Eve and all things safe and sound in the voice of a King’s College chorister. But what if boyishly unadulterated is also supremely implacable; not only guileless but remorseless, too?
As death itself; meanwhile so pleasing to behold you cannot help but liken the boy to your own son to have and to hold.
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
another festive weekend (23 dead including five Taliban); in June 2011, the
Intercontinental (21 dead). In the
same spokesperson for the
Afghan government, and the
same spokesperson for the
Not much for this youthful quartet to celebrate, knowing they would hardly live to see in the
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
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
Was there the
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.
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
And nothing else will ever become of you.