My Moment of Heroism

Jan 1, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   long, Uncategorized  //  4 Comments

Morn­ing rolled around. After hav­ing break­fast with my uncle, I head­ed towards Jalal­abad bus sta­tion in Kab­ul. I sat in the rear seat of a wag­on. A man with grub­by clothes, long hair, dirt-caked hands, wear­ing a big bag­gy vest with swollen pock­ets, lines etched into his tanned face, creas­es framed his eyes and his mouth, came aboard and sat next to me. His face was pale and his eyes were fright­ened, like the eyes of a hunt­ed ani­mal. In my coun­try, we hear of sui­cide attacks every­day, and the signs that the man had were all of a per­son about to com­mit a sui­cide attack on for­eign troops in our coun­try. The road I was trav­el­ing on is an impor­tant high­way which con­nects two major cities, the cap­i­tal, Kab­ul and the fron­tier province, Jalal­abad. For­eign sol­dier­s’ con­voys trav­el on this road frequently.

Think­ing all about these pre­mo­ni­tions, I thought that the man sit­ting next to me was sui­ci­dal tar­get­ing for­eign sol­diers. His eccen­tric­i­ty and talk­ing to him­self dou­bled my doubt. The man on my right looked scared and pale. We trad­ed a blank look. I was try­ing to fake a smile, but all I could man­age was a fee­ble upturn­ing of the cor­ners of my mouth. He stared at the sus­pect­ed man, his eyes switch­ing from him to me.

After dri­ving for thir­ty min­utes, we passed Mahipar Val­ley. I sat bolt upright rack­ing my brains when I remem­bered my moth­er who used to tell me sto­ries when I was at sev­enth grade. There was a line in one of her favorite sto­ries. She would always repeat it again and again: “cham­pi­ons are not made in the gyms; cham­pi­ons are made from some­thing they have deep inside them.” I was rolling my eyes. I asked the man on my right to roll down the win­dow for me. I made the excuse and start­ed talk­ing to him. When I asked him about the dirty man on my left, we were on the same page (he was doubt­ful too). I could­n’t dare talk to the sus­pect­ed man. How­ev­er, I hes­i­tant­ly shot my first ques­tion fol­lowed by anoth­er bunch. I would either get a nod or a mono­syl­lab­ic answer which shot up my doubt.

After a few min­utes of vac­il­lat­ing from one idea to anoth­er, my eyes were sud­den­ly caught by an approach­ing oncom­ing con­voy of ISAF (Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force) and ANA (Afghan Nation­al Army). I looked at the sus­pect­ed sui­cide bomber. He was mov­ing from side to side look­ing at the con­voy while keep­ing one hand on his tum­my mut­ter­ing some­thing with him­self. Like when some­one is dying, they repeat vers­es from their holy book. When I saw this, I became a hun­dred per­cent sure that the sce­nario seems to be a sui­cide attack. My Adam’s apple was bob­bing up and down. My lips had gone dry. I licked them and I found my tongue dry too. 

When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal a wife’s right to a hus­band, and rob his chil­dren of a father. If you save a life, I believe in some rewards from God. So, I quick­ly decid­ed to thwart the imma­nent attack and save my life along with nine oth­er pas­sen­gers in that vehi­cle and many oth­ers outside. 

First, I took a deep breath, focused all my con­cen­tra­tion and ener­gy and then grabbed both hands of the man twist­ed them and turned them over to hind. I felt so strong at that moment that I attacked a thir­ty year old man and slumped over on his seat with my itsy bit­sy body. I put my knee right up against his back. He was scream­ing and try­ing to release him­self, but he was held so tight­ly that he couldn’t even move. Loud Afghan Atan music with strong beats of drum and trum­pet blared from the speak­ers in the car. Since we were in the rear seat, the dri­ver couldn’t hear us, so he kept dri­ving. I was hold­ing him as long as the con­voy passed us. Final­ly, I searched him with my foot pre­tend­ing that I would release him. After a veneer of releas­ing, I searched him thor­ough­ly. There was noth­ing explo­sive to feel hard or heavy with him. His vest was stuffed with emp­ty min­er­al water bot­tles and old shop­ping bags like some­one with a psy­chi­atric problem.

After it turned out that the man was inno­cent, I was very much embar­rassed. I received punch­es, slaps and shoves, but I nei­ther showed any reac­tion nor cared about it. After exchang­ing a few words with him, I got to know that he had men­tal prob­lems and was psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly unbal­anced. After a few min­utes, the man raised his hand to scratch his head. I flinched, because I thought it was anoth­er one of those slaps on my face. I was mor­ti­fied and still felt scared tinged with a lit­tle feel­ing of courage and brav­ery, but I took myself as if I had done noth­ing wrong. 

My embar­rass­ment turned me a lit­tle to the right, so that the man could­n’t see me eye to eye. I faced to the pas­sen­ger on my oth­er side. I saw a smile on his face for the first time since the begin­ning of the trip. When I talked to him, he thought that he would die with his baby-girl on that day. We rolled up to Jalal­abad city. I was about to get off the bus; the pas­sen­ger on my right addressed me with the nick­name “denar bachay”, and pat­ted me on my back. He wished me a bright future. I apol­o­gized to the sus­pect­ed man for my mis­take and asked him if he want­ed to stay with me for lunch. He accept­ed my apol­o­gy and declined the invi­ta­tion. I got back home safe with a feel­ing of val­or. That is how my trip to Kab­ul ended.