the first car with two children and a woman leaves for Lashkar Gah, racing against
After a three-hour journey, Mullah Baseer arrives at the hospital run by Emergency:
his six-month-pregnant wife, three-year-old daughter and niece are in critical
condition, but they will survive. The white party-robes are covered in bloodstains;
what he has seen is written all over his face. “There were the bodies of three
children who were blown to pieces, their legs were in one place and their torsos
in another. I ran away too fast to realize what was happening and I didn’t want
to see anything else”, he relates, stroking his long white beard.
Sabawoon, a cousin of the groom, arrives just afterwards in another car ferrying
four injured people. The story he tells and the tragedy in his eyes are the same:
“The British were two kilometres away from the wedding and the missiles arrived
in rapid succession, there was no time to run and us men outside the house couldn’t
do anything to save our wives and children”. Arriving at the hospital with him
were two of the bride’s aunts, a three-year-old boy and a baby of a few months.
They raced as fast as they could against time. Sabawoon soon learns that one aunt,
who was immediately transferred to the operating theatre, will pull through.
The news travels quickly;
there is no time for questions before the next car arrives at the gate. Wadaan
is driving: he is Mullah Baseer’s son. He is bringing two more girls and Bakhtawara,
the groom’s mother. They are late, they had to make a difficult decision: instead
of racing directly to the hospital in Lashkar Gah, they stopped in a small clinic
in Grishk, an hour away from the hospital. The time lost proved fatal: the mother
of the groom dies a few minutes after entering the emergency room.
Outside the hospital, Bakhtawar, Ghamay and Wadaan are too exhausted to give
up hope and weep; together they bring away the corpse of Bakhtawara, still dressed
for the party.
The places and the facts described by the protagonists have been faithfully reported.
The names of the witnesses have been changed to protect their identity.