Wounds of Waziristan

Huzaifah Malik

Wounds of Waziristan

He dragged himself through the doors. Waqas threw his bookbag on the floor, and slumped his throbbing body onto his Charpai (a traditional bed made out of wood and woven rope). As he heard the slow whirling noise of the fan above him, Waqas began pondering about how difficult his life had become.

Waqas moved to the other side of the room, and sat on the cold mud floor. His mind was overwhelmed as he thought about his life and the life of the rich people. His thoughts started to drift to two years ago, good discipline throughout the 6th and 7th grade. But gradually everything changed. He took a deep breath, and leaned his head against the wall with closed eyes, trying to fight the flashbacks. His paralyzed father and his feeble mother. Waqas stood on his toes as the floor was too cold for his bare feet.

He went to his courtyard, and started plucking some red juicy apples. His cold and numb body was softened as he felt the warmth of the sun. Suddenly, he heard a whirring sound and saw a weird kind of thing flying in the air which threw fire in the direction of his house. He shivered and fell down, he groaned. The houses shook, the dust flew, and the ground trembled. There was smoke and debris everywhere. Everyone was crying and screaming, asking “Why do these drone attacks kill our people.” He was hit from behind and wounded. Everyone knew that there would be a second strike. He tried to get up, but he fell down right there, and thought he was dying “I am dying, save me!!”

He collapsed on the ground as he felt the shocking pain. Screeching and groaning with agony, he squirmed about on the ground, clutching his body. The strong pain engulfed him and his pain came out in rasps. It was a calamity for him. He vaguely heard somebody but he could not reach them.  

After a couple of hours, a brawny man heard his pain and rushed towards his bed in the hospital. He bent down over Waqas and tried to converse with him.

“How do you feel right now?” said the man.

Waqas tried to open his mouth, but was unable to utter a single word. He checked his bandaged legs and said slowly, “Your back and legs were hurt, God has kept you alive.” Waqas wanted to ask something about his legs but he could not speak, some words seemed to be stuck on his palate. The brawny man had moved to another bed to see the other victims who were also harmed by the dreadful drone strike. Waqas noticed a little boy with blood-soaked bandages on his legs and arms, who was laid on a bed next to him and a ventilator machine was connected to his nose. There was also an old man in the room.

Were these real people or just ghosts? Waqas was unable to figure it out. Suddenly, Waqas sensed a rough touch on his face. The old man was bending over him. His face was etched with wrinkles and his cheeks were sunken in. His caresses were coarse, but they were reviving him as rain drops freshened the dead and dried land.

“Where were you?” he asked him.
“I was in the courtyard plucking some apples when the plane, which hovered in the sky threw out hellish fire.”

“And where is my family? My mom, dad, two little sisters, and a brother…” said Waqas.

“Rescuers only found you breathing.”

Deep shudders grasped Waqas’s torn body. The old man clasped his shivering body in his skinny arms. After couple of minutes, it seemed perpetual, he released him from his grasp, and sat on the edge of the bed.

“My mom used to console me and I would forget my worries. I used to discuss all of my problems with her. Now who is going to wipe my tears. She was like as the saying goes, like a treasure of prayers.”, said Waqas

“I had a tall son just like you. He had studied at Cadet School. We were going to a graveyard to bury my uncle’s son. His car was hit by a missile. I found his body parts and charred clothes,” stated the old man. “Now everyone says that we are vicious! People are independently-minded! Never believe these words. We don’t control our destinies. The small hills illuminated by the full moonlight, the echoes of birds tweeting in the valleys, and the cherish noises of rain spreading coziness in the air are no longer ours.” said the old man.

“Why aren’t we independent?, Waqas asked.

“My small village is nearby, Miran Shah in North Waziristan. When the Afghan war started, the government needed our help to fight with strapping forces on the other side of the border. Money was poured out to recruit agents. Paved roads and bridges were built all over to connect impassable areas. Power grids were installed to buy the loyalty of people. Our houses were filled with smuggled things: refrigerators, TVs, tobacco, blankets, minerals, weapons, and even food.” said the old man. Deep throated sounds of gut wrenching pain, emitted by Waqas, broke their conversation. A few minutes later, the old man continued.

“Ah...it was all fake. It changed our society, but in a negative way. Very few people became wealthy, and a corrupt/criminal economy was created. They didn’t see the other side. Education institutes were not built to educate our kids and no factories were established to employ our young men, so they remained engaged in the felonious arms of such business, making and smuggling both goods and drugs.”

“Who brought these drones into our land?” asked Waqas, while looking at the boy with blood-soaked bandages on his head and legs.

“My dear son, war in our land is as traitorous as passes in our dusty mountains. As the moon goes through many different phases, so does this war. These drones came into our skies when a superpower of the world began fighting with certain militants in our land. But these little robots can’t differentiate between us and them, between our schools and their hiding places, and between our houses and their chambers. Our blood has been shed and we are called fanatics. We know that the judiciary system is available all over the world to provide justice for the people like us. We are helpless and uneducated therefore we have no voice.” said the old man.

“How will this war end in our country? asked Waqas.

“By telling kids like you to fight for your own right; by getting knowledge, by cleaning our land of evil elements that have turned us into scoundrel. My son, believe me when I tell you that we have been fighting for a long time, but not scoundrel. We could differentiate between righteousness and evilness, between light and darkness. Now, my dear son, we need that peace and happiness. They have wrecked havoc on our lives and happiness. We must rise from the ashes.”

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