Kandahar Province

May 6, 2008
By Ian Schiffer, Pacific Palisades, CA

It is 5:00 am in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan and Hamasa is on his way to the market to buy the usual, some, ”pomegranate, dried fruits, tobacco, and grapes” (Wikipedia) for his father. The market square is not far from Hamasa’s house, about a seven-minute walk from 413 North Bussorah Street to the market square. Upon arrival to the market place, Hamasa goes straight to his uncle Asa’s fruit stand to buy some pomegranates and grapes. Next, Hamasa goes to his dad’s friend Atash to buy some tobacco, and dried fruit. To get to the academy by 6:15 Hamasa has to dash home, on his journey back, someone is yelling, “WATCH OUT”; he knows what is happening, a daily routine. Hamasa makes a run for it; people are screaming, “KID, WATCH OUT!!” He drops the food, and is three blocks from his house. The vehicle turns on. He runs and makes it just in time, and he knows Asa is dead.
“Hamasa, where is my TOBACCO, oh and the fruit,” says Mustafa. His dad Mustafa is outraged that he dropped the food, but mostly the tobacco, and will not take any excuse, even death for an answer. Hamasa knows that he will have an empty stomach tonight. Mustafa takes off his belt and Hamasa gets what’s coming to him. After torture, Hamasa is on his way to the academy, like nothing happened.
The only reason Hamasa is at the, “National Military Academy of Afghanistan” (Wikipedia) is because the academy is cheaper and Hamasa wants to be in best shape possible for Bukashi tryouts next spring. At the academy Hamasa learns that many people have died in the attack that almost took his life. Hamasa’s first class of the day is the history of Military; today Hamasa is learning what guns are the best for the military. First, the instructor says that the Afghan military primarily uses the M-16 and that the M-16 is a great gun that is easy to get because there are, “approximately 8,000,000 worldwide.” (Wikipedia) Hamasa will remember for the future that the M-16’s are easy to get. The instructor also says that the Taliban supplies M-16’s to all of the people who join. Hamasa’s next and favorite class of the day is, ”Physical Fitness” (Wikipedia) and today the whole class is playing Bukashi, the coach Ashkar, tells the class, “The goal of the game is to grab the carcass of the headless goat and pitch it across a goal line.” (Wikipedia) Coach Ashkar believes that if Hamasa practices, then he may be as good as his father Mustafa. The next and last period for Hamasa is called, “Military Training” (Wikipedia). Today, in Military Training they have a speaker coming to talk to them, a “former” member of an organization. The speaker tells them that if anyone joins his former organization then he or she will be a hero for as long as they live, as long as they do their duty. Hamasa had a friend named Arshad, who was one year older than he. Arshad joined that man’s organization, and the man told Hamasa that Arshad “chose” to go to a better place. Hamasa was wondering where that better place was and if Arshad will ever be considered a hero again.
As soon as Hamasa’s Academy is over, he sprints to be first at the cement field, because at 3:37 they dump the trash in the alley between the bar and the tobacco stands. Once everyone arrives they know the drill, get in teams and run your butt off. The time at that moment was 3:12 and they had 25 minutes of Soccer. With sweat dripping down Hamasa’s face, he sprints to the soccer ball and shoots and SCORES! The time on Hamasa’s New England Patriot watch read, 3:36 and it is time for Hamasa to go home.
Upon arrival home, Hamasa uses the only luxury he has in his small apartment, a 13’ television, with 13 channels, 7 in black and white, and 6 in color. Once he turns the television on, a smart man says, “In the second serious attack in southern Afghanistan in two days, a suicide bomber set off an explosion on Monday as he drove his car on a crowded border town street, killing 36 civilians and wounding 38” (nytimes.com). Hamasa is very aware that Asa has died and has no emotion at all; his father says that he shouldn’t waste his tears for others. He should wait until he dies, because you are the only one who will cry. Last night, Mustafa had a Bukashi match and did not play well; tonight’s meal is fresh grapes from five days ago for Mustafa and Hamasa’s meal is a belt in the face.

Just for the record, Hamsasa means, “a heroic act” according to 123-babynames.com.

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