Yar Mohammed

By TropicalSnowstorm

When I heard about Yar's death, I wish I could say it
was devastating, but, rather, it was more like another
strand breaking...another strand of a rope holding me
over some abyss the darkness of which holds some
unknown destination that I don't yet wish to visit.
One strand broke when the father and the son stepped
on a mine while out for a nice walk, I saw them come
in - the son was writhing, the father looked resigned,
apparently in possession of more of the facts, knowing
that it was hopeless to writhe against inevitability...there
is no living to be made for a legless man in a society
that survives on manual labour. Another strand broke
the day Burt was shot in the leg, at first it looked like
he might lose it, but instead he'll just have a permanent
limp and be unfit for further service in the field. He
was from the Alabama Group and he had a cool accent -
although my family is from the same part of the country,
I moved around so much I don't really sound like it -
I looked up to him very much and thought, incorrectly,
that he was bullet-proof. So, one strand after another
breaks, and although I know there isn't a limitless supply,
to be honest I can't really see things very well from here
and I don't know how many strands are actually left.

Yar was from Panjshir, the valley of the five lions, which
is the part of Afghanistan populated by incidental cousins
of John Wayne, where they all talk slow and are tough as nails.
We spent a short time together, but I liked him very much and
became fast friends with him - we smoked the "chelam"
(hookah) many times together and talked of many things. He
tried to convert me in the cloddish way of one that has never
had their faith tested - "Why don't you become a Moslem?
Why don't you say the verse?" I have had my faith tested
and told him, nicely, that I had not the slightest belief in the
ways of his namesake, but that I certainly loved Moslems...
then we swapped adventure stories and talked of the ones we
did love, he was soon to be wed to "a beautiful woman from
Parwan." Yar got it just outside Ghazni, and it isn't even clear
whether it was simply by some bandits, or the head-bobbing
graduates of some Pakistani Madrahseh that can't grasp the
fact Afghans don't want "liberation" from a shot at prosperity
and peace. When it comes, death isn't noble or grand, bullets
tear apart a recipient's chest and face, and, like Madam Bovary
discovered (or didn't), vile fluids bubble up through the mouth,
eyes bulge and with a breathless gasp, the body shudders.

When he died, Yar had been wed a little over a month, and
I enquired after his wife, knowing the market for a twenty
year old woman with no hymen is a bit limited here, and
not wanting Yar's wife to end up a beggar or worse. Between
Yar's family and her brother, I was told, she would be "well"
taken care of. Someone said they "cried like a baby" when
they heard about Yar, and someone else put forth "he gave
his life for his country", but that is the luxury of new-comers
to all of this. For me, although I wish it were a tragedy and I
could cry like a baby, just another strand broke and I was very
glad that it wasn't me. The realisation of that hurts me more
than his death itself, for which I feel another strand fraying.
I don't know how many strands are left, I can't see very well
from here, and I don't know if I fall where I'll end up - home
(where I don't really fit in any more), or here (where I have
never fit in), or someplace else entirely. The telling of something
always becomes a story, and telling about something using words,
based on ones limited prism of understanding, makes it an invention.
The reporters that told, briefly, of Yar's death got the story wrong -
if only people could see these "seekers of the truth" in action, they
would know how frequently, due to laziness, lack of intuition and
simple hang-over, this happens - they said "four soldiers were
killed in action near Ghazni in an early morning ambush". The
real story is, "Yar wasn't a "soldier", he was just another young
guy that got killed doing his job...just like I am", and the invention
is, "this is uncommonly tragic, therefore, it can't happen to me..."

-- by Steve McKennon, September, 19 2003

**For Yar Mohammed, Panjshiri, killed Sept. 2, 2003

Unauthorized Copying Is Prohibited. Ask the author first.
Copyright 2003 TropicalSnowstorm
Published on Thursday, May 13, 2021.     Filed under: "Poetry"
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Comments on "Yar Mohammed"

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  • carlosjackal On Sunday, May 16, 2021, carlosjackal (2637)By person wrote:

    Man, this is some awesome personal and poetic dispatches from the frontline. Were you an army medic? Either way, this is great and I feel privileged to be reading this 27 1/2 years later when you have your strands back :)

  • TropicalSnowstorm On Monday, May 17, 2021, TropicalSnowstorm (1800)By person wrote:

    I was an advisor to Ministry of Finance for the most part, as well as to the Central Bank and Ministry of Defense for a smaller amount of time. A lot of my work had me traveling around to the provinces. I spent a lot of time in Herat, which was pretty nice. Other places were less put together. : ) I was not in uniform, those guys had it a LOT worse off. Scholar

  • carlosjackal On Sunday, May 16, 2021, carlosjackal (2637)By person wrote:

    *despatches *17 1/2 years later in normal years. 27 1/2 years later in Covid Years ;)

  • TropicalSnowstorm On Monday, May 17, 2021, TropicalSnowstorm (1800)By person wrote:

    Man, I was just thinking about that the other day... It has been 20 years since 9/11... It doesn't feel like it, but that is how much time has passed. Such a huge chunk of my life and yet it was so long ago. Oh well, I'll just have to keep bathing in blood of virgins to keep myself young so I can be involved in the next round of whatever comes. I'm ready! : ) Scholar

  • Blood Saga On Monday, November 23, 2009, Blood Saga (81)By person wrote:

    That was so lovely...and so sad.

  • Dei On Saturday, February 26, 2005, Dei (666)By person wrote:

    what it feels like to be dangling from that rope. only in my case a part of me wanted desperatly to let it brake. i was tired of holding on. but im glad it didnt. stay strong. there is always someone that needs you and loves you. LIVE and be strong

  • Dei On Saturday, February 26, 2005, Dei (666)By person wrote:

    this is the first of your works i have read. and i must say i stand all amazed. i have had to bury too many loved ones in the last few years and i understand...

  • Zhee On Friday, October 8, 2004, Zhee (533)By person wrote:

    you have such a way with words.. you really brought this alive for me... thanks!

  • A former member wrote: after reading this...i am left with really nothing to say except that its really hard to immortalize someone with words... but you sir, are quite good at it. i wonder how many more Yaraa's need a well deserved eulogy.

  • Dancing_Monkey On Tuesday, February 3, 2004, Dancing_Monkey (1248)By person wrote:

    I hope and belive that writing this made you feel better. I shall wipe my eyes now and be happy that I have only my inner war of faith.

  • DarkPoet On Saturday, December 13, 2003, DarkPoet (234)By person wrote:

    Be strong, you will get through it and hopefully find you fit in in the most important ways wherever you happen to end up. Scholar

  • Drea On Sunday, October 12, 2003, Drea (1486)By person wrote:

    my mind could never wrap around this grandness of this subject. i was truely touched and it made me cry. I have read this 4 times and each time it becomes more and more sad. i too am sorry for your loss. ~Drea~

  • Silver Spectre On Saturday, October 11, 2003, Silver Spectre (84)By person wrote:

    I was very touched by this and i love the way you write it. I am looking foward to reading more and hopefuly with out the loss of course.~Silver

  • KittyStryker On Thursday, September 25, 2003, KittyStryker (711)By person wrote:

    touching tribute... it amazes and infuriates me that people can read such things, or witness them, or even flick through and hear about them on TV... and still be apathetic about politics. ::sigh::

  • worm On Tuesday, September 23, 2003, worm (1236)By person wrote:

    if all people fighting could read your words of devastation, I believe, that would be enough to have them question their beliefs about their own righteousness... either way, T/S, here's a prayer for your finding some new strands to rest upon... Be Well!

  • diavolessa On Monday, September 22, 2003, diavolessa (208)By person wrote:

    war is a brutal thing, yet it is just what has made us more human during the times. writing this should have caused much pain, yet it's such a beautiful piece to read...it's eating me up! {dia}

  • Ophelia On Monday, September 22, 2003, Ophelia (221)By person wrote:

    I have read this a number of times and I keep thinking I only see one side of a tragic war. To be sad at the loss of a friend but happy that it wasn't you, sorry for you loss...........O.

  • A former member wrote: I sometimes realize that each time I lose a friend it becomes easier to write them off and focus on what remains. Incredible write to say the least. ~Urban Shipwreck~

  • A former member wrote: I can't even imagine what it would be like to dangle on those strands, to feel them break and just be happy that they're not all gone...your soul sounds like it's dying, trying to keep itself alive...

  • Delphoid-Q On Monday, September 22, 2003, Delphoid-Q (213)By person wrote:

    This is brutally honest and must have cost a lot to write. I love it for exposing the truth, regardless of what is expected or of what people wish to hear. That is why I respect you so much T/S. In short – I loved it. Very well done.

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