This is the second and last installation of the series on the seventh anniversary of the Afghan War. To see the first half of Najib’s story, go to www.uvureview.com
When I went outside it was almost bright as day, though it was night. People were saying, “Look to the south, look to the south, that’s where the bombs hit!” I looked and saw a bright fire coming out of the ground. People were saying, “That’s where the Taliban’s big base is!”
Everyone was worried. You could see the fear of another civil war in their eyes, the same fear as the first time the Taliban took control over Mazar City. I was not as worried as everyone else around me because I was thinking that someone is coming to get rid of the Taliban, so I’ll be able to watch movies not hiding in the basement, but unafraid in our living room. I hated the Taliban for prohibiting television and video games.
No one was able to go to bed due to the heavy bombing that night. Every 10 minutes a bomb shook the ground, and we thought no one would survive.
The next day, America announced the War Against Terrorism. My dad was telling my uncle about how the Americans were using high-tech laser-controlled bombs that only targeted Taliban military bases. When I went to town to see if there was anything left after the bombs hit, I saw that nothing was changed, which made me trust the Pentagon’s words. After 10 days of precision bombing, the U.S. gained the support of my people by proving that they were not targeting civilians.
It took only 15 days of bombing for the Taliban to realize they had no place in Afghanistan to hide, to make them think of finding safe haven for themselves. So they ran south, to Pakistan.
Afghan people were impressed by the power of the U.S. military. To us, it was impossible to even think of getting rid of the Taliban regime. But now the streets in my neighborhood were covered by white snow. It looked like the whole environment was cleaned and the people found a new hope of having a free country.
When I went outside in the cold air, my breath turned to fog. The air I was breathing was so pure I thought even my exhalations would make it dirty, so I didn’t want to breathe. I was so happy that now I could dress like my favorite Hollywood star, Chris Tucker, from “Rush Hour.” That was the meaning of freedom to me then.
But I was only 17 years old, and had grown up in a country closed off from the rest of the world. Almost the whole country was na’ve like this, believing that in seven years Afghanistan would be free like Europe. I’m 24 now, studying in the U.S. and enjoying real freedom, which my people back home are still far away from. It may take seven centuries for Afghanistan to be like Europe.