The Civil War

“You were such a sweet child in America.  I told Baba to send you back.  For your own good,” shouted Wali.
“I’m not American!  I am an Afghan.  You would do well to remember that part of you as well.  We live in Afghanistan.  We are Muslim.  Our family is Muslim.  This is who we are.  It is our heritage.  Our pride!”  came the raging rejoinder from Amir.

“Our sister is not a donkey to be sold at market.  She is our blood.”

“She will do as she is told.  That is a woman’s place.  She knows this.  She will do her duty.”

“Her duty?  What is wrong with you?  Have you no shame?”

“What of you?  Have you no shame?  You are Muslim.  You are one of us.  You should understand.”

“I am not Muslim.  That is the faith of our fathers.  I never accepted it.  I refuse to acknowledge it.”

“Be careful brother.  That is apostasy.  Blasphemy.  You would do well to remember where you are.”

“And that is why i am leaving this god forsaken Muslim land.”

“We will see what Baba says about that.”

“Father has no say.  I have reached my majority.  The choice is mine.  I have my passport.  I am an American citizen.  As are you.”

“I have renounced America.  I will fight the American imperialist.  Together with my brothers, we will re-take our country and return it to it’s Islamic glory.”

“Islamic glory?  HA!  There is no glory in the oppression…the madness that you contemplate.  You speak of glory and Islam.  Yet, what you want is a reversion to an Islam that never existed.  You and your ‘brothers’ are quite insane.”

“America invaded and occupied our lands.  They bomb our countrymen.  They attack Islam.  They burn our Holy Qu’ran!  They are infidels.  They do not belong here.  We shall repel them and send them scurrying back to their homes as happened in Vietnam.”
“That was a different time and place.  America is different now.  If you would lay down your arms and let them help us, Afghanistan could be a place for all of our people.  Instead, you wish to place women back in the burqa, you wish to repress the Shi’a.  You wish to force Islam on everyone as the taliban did in the ‘90s.  You are no better than the fascists.  You are no better than the communists who invaded.  The Americans would help us but we will not let them.”

“The Americans are here only for our resources.  They do not care about Afghans.  They hate Muslims.  They hate Islam.”

“That is your own hate speaking.  Listen to yourself.”

“This is the Afghan in me speaking.  It is the Muslim.  You have lost yourself in your love of America.  Baba should never have taken us there.  It was the act of a traitor.  The act of a coward.”

“So Father is a coward?  You have done nothing in your life.  With your big words and lack of deeds.”

“You know nothing of what I’ve done.  I am with my brothers.  We continue the war against the infidel.  We fight for Islam.”

“You fight for oppression.  You fight for the Saudis.  The Islam of your people is a blasphemy to humanity.  Mohammad would not know you.  He would think you a monster.”

“But this is not why we fight today.  Our sister has been given to marriage.  This marriage will fulfill all of Baba’s obligations and allow him to live his life out free of debt.  If Ameerjan seeks to not fulfill her obligations to this family, she will bring dishonor to us.”

“And what will you do?  Will your honor demand Ameerjan’s blood?  Will you murder her for honor’s sake.”

“I will do what is necessary.  She is bound by blood to us.  You are bound by blood to us.”

“I am bound by humanity.  I am bound by familial love.  I am not bound by this disgusting honor code that demands my Sister’s blood for disobedience to an archaic system that enslaves her to the men of this family.”

“So what will you do?”

“I will do what is necessary…”

“Then you will be the author of your own sadness.”

“Our sister will fulfill her obligations to this family.  She will marry Mullah Alam Khan.  It will be done.  She will bring honor to this family.  Her selfless act will give Baba the means to resurrect our family name and to build a future for our family in our homeland.”

“She will not marry that antiquity of a man.  That wrinkled bastard will not touch her.  It will not happen.”

“It will happen.  You will go back to America…to your beloved infidels.  You will not stand in the way.”

“It is already done.  Ameerjan was taken away in the night.  We knew that you plotted against us.”

“Here is your passport.  In the envelope is a ticket to America.  Return to your beloved corruption and never return.  You are no longer my brother.  If I see you again, you will not live to tell of the meeting.  Be gone.”

“You bastard!  This is not the last of this.  Shoaib will undo this evil bargain that you have made with our sister’s life.”

“Be careful brother.  Your forget your place.  You are older than me but Baba takes my counsel.  I have the influence here.  Kabul is my home now.  You are a stranger here.  You are an infidel.  You border on apostasy.  One word from me and you will find yourself in prison.  You will not long live in a Kabul prison.  With a word, your life is forfeit.”

“I will leave.  Have no fear of that.  This land is dying because of you and your brothers.”

“Speak no more brother.  We should part now while I am still willing to allow it.  Sister will marry Alam Khan.  You will be well financed in America.  Keep your own counsel.  Do nothing foolish.  Tell Shoaibjan nothing.  Even with his American friends and training, he can do nothing.  If he tries to take our sister, he will die.  She is, even now, on her way to Lashkar Gah.  There is nothing for him there but death.  Rash acts will only  serve to endanger Ameerjan.”

“We shall see.”

I flew back to America that night.  On the layover in Dubai, Shoaib met me at the Trader’s Hotel.

“Shoaib, my brother.”

”Wahid, how are you?  What word on Ameerjan?”

“They have sent her to Lashkar Gah.  It will be dangerous for you there.  It is the Taliban homeland.  Helmand Province is violent.  Terrible men prowl the countryside.  The Taliban are all powerful there.”

“I did missions there when I was still in the Army, Wahid.  Don’t worry.  I know the place well.  I know people there who will help me.”

“You must take care.  Ameerjan must not be made to go through with this corrupt marriage.  The thought of that old man touching my sister pains me.”

“Wahid, give me all of the details that you have.  I’ll make contact.  I have a plan.”

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