Monday, February 18, 2013

My Life Story – The Interpreter

In Helmand, I woke up one day and found myself in a mud-hut. Now I was an interpreter with the American forces. The commanding officer along with his team were supposed to meet a Malik in the nearby village. I was to go and translate between the officer and the Malik. The officer would provide me with an Icom scanner to listen to the Taliban chatter. On the way the Taliban engaged us. I was listening to the Icom when the fear struck me.
In Kabul, as a any other teenager, I was also into education and sports. I went to school and joined a Karate club in a Kabul neighborhood. But it didn’t get long before I lost everything and ended up in jail. It was during the Taliban Regime. I was in the club when the Talib came in harassing us for doing an un-Islamic sport. He whipped a few of us. Then he went to whip our master for not allowing us to go to the mosque.
In Moscow, my parents sent my brother and sisters to Switzerland. I was suffering from what trauma the Taliban commander had caused my body and soul in his jail. Now I was ready to leave Moscow.
In Kabul the Nato forces had ousted the Taliban. Karzai had been appointed as our president. Now I was in Kabul in search of work. But I ended up in Helmand. My job was to accompany the American officers on their patrols in different villages.
I heard the Taliban leader over the Icom. I feared that it was the same commander who put me in Jail trying to kill me. Was it the same commander? I feared to find out. My name is Shabir Khan. But sometimes the officers called me Terp. When they wanted me to go to them they took their right or left hand to their head, without calling my name. I was not alone. There was one more interpreter. But soon he was beheaded by the Taliban commander. Two new interpreters replaced him. The Taliban leader sent his men to follow us.
My job took me from places to places and from tragedies to tragedies. Every now and then the Taliban leader ambushed our patrol. We counterattacked. Men, women, and children got caught in the cross fire. From much pain and grief I imagined an angel who kept me sane.
My search for the leader grew stronger. I told my colleagues and the commanding officer. But the officer convinced me to keep my mind away from his bad memories. But how could I do that? If I were right about him being the commander, then he was the man who had changed the course of my life. He put me in jail. He beat me every day. Because of him we left Kabul and went to Moscow. And it was because of him that we didn't get a break now.
We had a secret agent who informed us about Mullah Aslam, the Taliban leader. He would tell us about his plans to ambush us. He would tell us about him going into a village asking people for money and shelter. We were able to kill Aslam’s son with his help. Who was he?
We would do our daily patrol in the villages. That was our everyday main job.
In the camp we rested or trained certain things. Sometimes, our interpreter friends came from other camps and we cooked food and talked. We mainly talked about the Taliban commander sending his men to follow us. He had managed to kill many interpreters.
One night, I went to a camp in Mousa Qhala to stay with my friends Sami and Ehsan. On the way I felt that someone was following me. In the morning Sami escorted me back to our camp. On the way we encountered a Taliban remote checkpoint. I fired at them and they fired back. We hid behind our car. Then we took cover behind a stone. The Taliban kept coming at us. We left the stone and a hid behind a ridge. A Taliban pick up vehicle arrived. A man came out. I was shocked to see him. I was angry. My heart was beating. I fired three bullets at him when the American patrol arrived.
One day the secret agent came to our camp to see the officer. He said he should send me away from the camp. Aslam was training a suicide bomber to kill me. Now I was even more restricted. The officers didn’t allow me to leave the camp alone. My friends Sami pushed me to leave Helmand and join my parents in Moscow. But that was a defeat for me. I wanted to stay by the side of the men, woman, and children of Helmand.
Now Mullah Aslam was lame in the right leg. Now he knew who I was. He knew I had broken his man’s nose and tooth in Kabul. And now this. How could he believe that an interpreter had shot him? How could he go to the villages with his lame leg? Now people didn’t think of him as invincible. Now he would do everything to kill me.
One of our jobs was to train the Afghan National Army and police. We would show them how to use their new American guns or Machine guns. We would train them how to get into suspicious houses, etc. And the other main part of our job was to visit people and win over their hearts and minds. We would go to see the chiefs, Maliks, mullahs, and the locals to talk to them. In fact we exposed ourselves to the Taliban even more.
I was in a police station. I saw a policeman running towards me. Then I saw dead men, women, and children. I saw the angel sitting by my side. She ran her fingers over my eyes and left. My father made his way from Moscow. He and Sami’s father came to Helmand. But of course their journey was not without danger. They were stopped by Mullah Aslam’s son in his checkpoint.
Sami, Ehsan, and many others rushed to the hospital. Even the local mullah and Malik came. Sami cried like a child. Others feared when would be their turn. I said nothing. I didn’t enjoy the job any more. I didn’t enjoy my friends any more. I was dead.
After I was out of a long coma, it was Sami who talked to me. My father took me to Pakistan. From Pakistan I went to Moscow. From Moscow I went to Ukraine. I was weak and in pain. My whole body had stitches from the suicide attack on me. The smuggler left me in a jungle for hours. Hungry and in pain, I was about to die. Then he took me into Poland and left me there. I walked, fell, and then nothing. I saw an angel sitting by side.
In Helmand, the secret agent who had lost his interpreter son into the hands of Aslam, informed the officer and Sami about Aslam hiding in his birth village. Sami, Ehsan, and the officer managed to kill Aslam that night. His son vowed to kill every interpreter and their families. He managed to behead Ehsan.
Mullah Jabar, Aslam's son, the new Taliban leader went to a family demanding for their daughter. The father went into a British army camp and informed them. The next day Mullah Jabar sent his brothers and men to prepare for his wedding. The British forces captured every single one of them. Mullah Jabar lived to fight another day.

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His new FB show Spotlight: Interview in Public is  creating a lot of attention already. Check it out:

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