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Left in the Dust

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Dust blew in his eyes as he slowly got up from the dirt road. When his vision was cleared he frantically started to look for his mother. Six year old Rashid was left alone as his town in Swat Valley, Pakistan was destroyed by the Taliban. His mother was dead along with his older brother. Rashid began to look threw the ruble with hope of finding someone alive. The air was dry and the sun was beginning to set. Rashid promised himself to stay strong and alive. As the sun showed its last bit of rays, Rashid found some shelter under a broken down truck. His stomach began to ache in hunger pains, his tears swelled up his eyes. He mourned quietly for his mother and brother. He wondered if it was even worth living. He stayed under the broken down truck fearful and restless till the sun came up.

Wiping the dust off his face that blew in the night, he carefully got out from under the truck. He could hear a coughing noise. His heart began to speed, scared but curious he followed the sound. As he looked to his left he noticed a Kalashnikov which in Pakistan meant a gun. His hands began to tremble it was the first time Rashid had held a gun before. He quickly examined it. Hoping he could mimic how the army soldiers used it. The sound became closer, anticipation grew in little Rashid’s weak body. Rashid’s dark brown eyes made contact with a stray dog. The dog quickly turned to Rashid when it heard his footsteps. Blood dripped from its mouth. It began to cough. It was injured. Rashid was not scared of the dog he only hoped it was not sick so it could cure Rashid’s loneliness. Rashid slowly aimed the gun at the sick dog he recited a prayer he had just memorized. He pulled the trigger and the coughing stopped. Rashid sat sad next to the dog; he wished he could be put out of his misery too.

Rashid walked to where his home once stood. He found some of his clothes. His brother’s prayer book was scattered across the ground. And stuck under some ruble he found one of his mother’s Burkas. Rashid kept looking threw the ruble with thoughts of food running threw his mind. A roaring sound came from the main street. It was a car full of people. Excited and thankful he ran to the road. A man and his family were headed to the city. They let Rashid in. He sat next to a girl about the same age as him. He asked her what her name was “Abida” she said. She was a quiet girl. The mother gave Rashid some spare bread. It sat in his stomach like a brick. Rashid and Abida hadn’t talked for about an hour. Rashid could tell that Abida wanted to know more about him. So he started to tell her about the dog he had shot. She didn’t seem interested about the story but wanted to still talk. She began to talk about how her family and her were drove out of their town by the Taliban. The Taliban believed that women were not supposed to attend school and had to stay home. The Taliban was upset with the government because of their new westernized traditions so the Taliban rebelled. Abida started to cry. Rashid hugged her which was unusual because Rashid never had a friend that was a girl.

It took the family 2 days to get to the city. Rashid liked Abida as a new friend. But as they got into the city Abida’s parents told Rashid that they would drop him off at an orphanage. Rashid started to cry because it was the first time in awhile that he felt safe and happy. Rashid didn’t want to leave Abida. Rashid had to take his clothes, his brother’s prayer book and his mother’s burka. He hugged Abida and said goodbye.

Rashid walked to the orphanage door and knocked. A man with a long beard came to the door. He greeted Rashid and showed him around. The man’s name was Muhammad. The orphanage was not just that but a school ran by the Taliban. Rashid was scared of the men there but liked how there were boys his own age to play with. Rashid was given a bed and food everyday. But in return he had to attend school. The Taliban School was important. Rashid would wake up everyday at 5 am to pray. Rashid was told to pray 5 times a day. Rashid dreaded going to school. He would spend hours a day having to memorize and recite prayers. The Taliban made the boys live by the Sharia Law. The rules of this law was in order to root out "non-Islamic" influence, television, music, and the Internet were banned. Men were required to wear beards, and subjected to beatings if they didn't. Women were also banned from going to school and learning any type of education. Women were banned from working outside the home. Women were also prohibited from leaving their home without a male relative and those that did so risked being beaten or even shot. The Taliban believed it was a way to safeguard women and their honor.

Worst of all the teachings, Rashid was taught to hate American soldiers and the Pakistan Army. The Taliban said that they were not people of god and that soldiers of the Taliban should sacrifice their life for god. Rashid went through many different types of training. He was finally taught how to correctly use a Kalashnikov along with grenades, bombs and missiles. Rashid liked the weapon lessons but hated the lessons when the Taliban teachers taught about suicide bombing. The Taliban used suicide bombing to kill the enemies they found that it was the best way. They see suicide bombing as a religious sacrifice. The boys in the orphanage will be praised by god if they sacrifice themselves for the Taliban. Rashid was uneasy at the first couple lessons but soon agreed to the ideas.

Rashid lived in the orphanage till he was 14. He changed in so many ways between those years. Rashid had killed more than 50 people. Rashid became a religious and angry young man. He forgot about his mother and brother and Abida. They no longer meant anything to him. His life was to serve the Taliban and God. Rashid became an official Taliban solider. He went around small towns and raided schools that taught to girls; he killed anyone he thought was an enemy. He saw many of his classmates and boys he grew up with in the orphanage die in battle or suicide bombings. He idolized the young men that gave their life up.

The Taliban was planning for a bombing attack in the city of Pakistan. They were informed that members of the government would be there and it would make them closer to gain control of Pakistan. The next day the Taliban would put up a list of the men that are ready to sacrifice themselves for the Taliban. Rashid was anxious and ready to take on the responsibility. That morning he woke up extra early and waited for the list to be posted. He finally saw the list and the last name on the list was his. He felt so honored. That afternoon Rashid and the other soldiers were explained the plan. The Taliban assigned Rashid to stake out in a local bakery. And if he is to see a member of the government there, he is to recite a prayer and sacrifice himself. After the meeting was over Rashid went to his bed where he prayed and prepared himself.

Rashid was told to be at the bakery before sunset. Just before sunset he began to apply bombs to his clothing. He walked into the bakery just before sunset and sat at a table in the corner of the bakery. He casually ordered a sweet roll and waited for the enemies to arrive. The sun had just fallen down and there was still no sign of the enemies. Rashid kept his focus and began to pray. He was interrupted by a lady, she was with her father but her Burka kept Rashid from knowing who she was. He got a little scared because he hadn’t seen or talked to a girl since Abida. Rudely he asked her what she wanted. “Hi I’m Abida and I was wondering if you were Rashid”, she said. He froze and didn’t know what to say his childhood memorize came flushing back. He realized the man he became wasn’t the man he wanted to be. “Yes I am”, He said. But as soon as Abida could say anything back, members of the government walked into the bakery. This was the time Rashid had been waiting for since he was in the Taliban. But his child hood memory came flooding back into his brain. The self destructed man left and Rashid became himself. His mother’s burka and brother’s bible flashed in his mind. The overwhelming feeling of hunger and sorrow seeped in his soul. Rashid was hesitant to leave with Abida, but he knew it was the life he wanted to live.





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