“When the Najibullah government told me to fight the Mujahideen, I left. I picked up a gun, and fought with the Mujahideen!” Mr. Omar said over dinner, his mouth full of chicken. His face was marked with age, but his hair and his mustache were jet black. He slouched against an orange satin pillow in his pin striped suit; his legs sprawled out in front of him. It wasn’t the hour for pin-striped suits.
“So you fought with the Mujahideen in Ghazni?” I asked. Ghazni is a province that borders Bamyan. It’s predominantly Pashtun and Hazara, and is currently very unstable.
Mr. Omar nodded, and took a large bite of his naan, “We lived on a mountain, and slept under the stars.” He had a little trouble with English so he spoke deliberately, slowly. “And I also taught primary school, then. In one hand I had a pen, and in the other I had a gun!”
“Sounds just like the PRT,” Elizabeth smirked.
“But now I’m tired of fighting,” his voice dropped, “Now I want peace.” He looked down and focused intently on his food. Though I wanted to ask him more about his time with the Mujh, I didn’t.
I looked around the room of the house we were sleeping in that night. It was spacious and lavishly decorated for a village home. Embroidered pillows and mats lined the sides of the walls, and the chairs in the hall were intricately carved. The owner evidently had some degree of money. In this remote, rural district of Bamyan, I wondered where it came from.
After dinner was finished, we rolled up the tarp on the floor and the men filtered out of the room. Two boys came in with blankets and pillows and laid them out on the floor for us. I pulled off my headscarf and walked outside. The mud-built outhouse, which emptied out directly onto the ground below, was in use. It was pitch black in Panjob, and there wasn’t even a breeze to break the silence.