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Honest mistake they say

Stories and News No. 1246

My name is, indeed ... my name was Zemari Ahmadi and together with my four children I died for an honest mistake, they said on November 3, the day after the one you dedicate to the dead, a particularly significant coincidence. With words, that's what they claim. Because with words they write, speak, often hurt, sometimes kill and rarely cure and save. But with those same words, then, they bring me back to life.

Therefore, today is August 29, 2021 again. We are in Kabul, Afghanistan and, as I told you at the beginning, my name is Zemari and I am 43 years old. I am an electrical engineer and have been working for the office in the capital of Nutrition and Education International for 14 years. It is a non-governmental organization based in California, the country of invaders, liberators, occupiers and now departing. Forgive me, but now I don't know how to call them anymore and, perhaps, I don't think they know anymore either. 

It is now 9 am on that Sunday in late August. Like every day, I give an affectionate kiss to my wife Anissa, greet the children who are already awake and hug tightly the big one of the house, Samia. She is twenty-one years old but she has been speaking for a while like an adult woman. Inevitable, in these lands, where the hands of growth whiz by at double speed. But they do it for you, to protect you and save your life. Because time is life here. Everything, each split second. And when you leave your loved ones for any reason, even for just a few hours, it's like leaving for a space travel with a one-way ticket and a desirable return one.

As I always do, I take the water cans and with the help of Ahmad, my daughter's boyfriend, we fill the trunk of the car that the company lends me, a white Toyota, which every now and then I am convinced is mine for real, and then I see myself loading it with my wife and children to go out on a day of rest and relax. Since is it Sunday, right? This is not what you do on this day where there is no need for someone to go around the city to distribute water and food to the hungry ones, am I wrong?

Okay, we're ready to go. First stop at the boss's house to take a friend and colleague of mine and, above all, the laptop, because at these latitudes everything has to be counted, even the love with which you want your fellow citizens to survive. At the same moment, a detail that I discover only now, curious and dangerous eyes are spying on me: “The white car is about to leave a probable refuge of the Islamic State”, the stars and stripes guardians communicate with each other. "It is located about five kilometers northwest of the airport." Unaware of all this, Ahmad and I listen to the directives of the boss, who explains the itinerary and the houses where we will have to bring the water, or the transparent gold, our oil, which will soon be that of the whole planet . So they say, with words and wisdom they predict, and this time they took us big.

Meanwhile, the same, invisible spectators mentioned above interpret our harmless dialogue in this way: "We have intercepted communications inside the shelter, where the head of the terrorists orders the car to make several stops."

Let's wait here for a moment, in this grotesque intersection of lives made such by the misunderstanding of what really matters in life, rather than reality. For me, it is a typical day in which I try to give meaning to my presence in the world, just as it is for the young people sent to my land to bring peace, democracy and above all their weapons. But what is their meaning?

Well, let's go back to this imagery live. It is now 9.35 am and we have arrived at the headquarters of the NGO. We go in and we work hard to sign the attendance register and to carry out all the bureaucratic part that belongs to us. Then, in the middle of the morning we go out again and reach the police station, which is now occupied by the Taliban, to obtain a written permit with which to distribute food in a new camp for displaced persons.

Do you understand better now? Whether they are Americans or Taliban, we depend on both to be able to feed ourselves, despite being in the place where we were born and raised. And where we will die, at the end of the story, even before life itself.

In any case, after an exhausting negotiation, at 2 pm we return to our office very happy. Once again we did it. It is our first and only victory today: someone signed the authorization to survive and what matters is only the word at the end. We have a lunch and at 2.35 pm we are back on the street to fill the water cans with a hose. An hour later the car is ready and so are we, but at that moment, at 3.38pm, a colleague of mine can't get through and asks me for the keys to move the Toyota into the driveway. At that precise time, this too is what I learn later, the American superheroes, neither super nor heroes, talk and listen to each other through their microphones and headphones, without looking into each other's eyes and this is the real problem, I think, of this obsession with dialogues far from the brain and the heart. “The suspicious car is in an unknown complex,” says the voice made metallic by the technology and inhumanity with which it evolves. "The site is located eight / twelve kilometers southwest of the airport." If I only had one of the powers of the real US comic book superheroes. I am not saying superhuman strength or even invulnerability. Those like us would take little to survive, even just super hearing or super sight, and many of us would still be alive.

Anyway, finally, or at the end, the afternoon arrives and it is time to bring relief to those parched throats as much as we love. In fact, the first stage coincides with the departure one.

I'm going home, do you understand? Can you hear me, children? Wife adored? I'm coming back, I shouldn't have then, but now I'm doing it again and this time it won't hurt like that day. Less, I promise.

So, later I am in front of my house and as soon as I enter the adjacent street, my four children, who are from three to ten years old, together with other kids, after having come out of the doors, they take the besiege my car. They are right, they are thirsty. All those who are thirst for water and food are, especially if they came into the world so recently without someone having warned them in advance that it would certainly not be a walk in the park.

At the same time, those who observe us from the sky, who are neither divinities in love with humans nor even extraterrestrials sick with curiosity, draw the worst conclusions: "The suspicious car went into a crowded neighborhood." In return, the drone operators quickly scan the courtyard and report having detected two adult males, the driver - which would be me - and another, probably Samia's boyfriend, who was only thirty years old.

“It's time to strike”, they order, sentence, exterminate. In a word, so they say. The monster that killed us on the spot is called Drone MQ-9 Reaper and fired a single Hellfire missile with a 20-pound, 9-pound warhead.

I'm sorry, dear wife. I'm sorry I left you alone and without our children. I'm sorry that the idiot and criminal fire, more than friendly, made you a widow even before you were a wife, sweet Samia. I'm sorry and I don't care what our killers and all the others say, write and tell each other, but my life has been absolutely honest, as well as the remnant of years our children have lived. For this reason, our unacceptable disappearance is the most dishonest and inhumane thing that can happen on this earth.

Say it, write it down, let them listen.

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My last book: A morte i razzisti (Death to racists)