“Before bringing peace, tell us who benefited from killing our children”

More than 70 days have passed since the bloody attack at Kabul University, but people’s death changing into a fleeting event is a contagious diseases in the war-torn Afghanistan. Most people have forgotten what happened to the victims, but there is an old man in Kabul to whom seventy days was as long as seventy years. He did not get out of bed during this time, and tears constantly dripped down the wrinkled lines of his face. When others visit him, they do not mention the name “Dawood” to him so that he does not hurt even more.

He does not go anywhere, he does not talk much. The corner where Dawood studied until dawn has become his corner as well. There he prays, eats, sleeps, thinks, hates, cries, and in short, spends the night in the same room. In one corner is a photo of a 23-year-old boy, and in the other is a book left by him. More than 70 days have passed since then, and Dawood was one of those killed in that tragic incident. A fourth-year student of Administration and Public Policy who did not return home from university the next day. His old father still can’t believe it, and his gaze is fixed on the gate so that his son may come back.

He did not raise his children easily. After the death of his wife in Daikundi, he raised his children with a lot of difficulty. He especially liked his youngest child that’s why he cannot cope with this farewell. With a beautiful Hazaragi accent, he says: “Every time he came in through the gate, he was happy. It’s the truth. I was thankful whenever I looked at his strong built. They took from me. They took my son from me. They took my young child from me…” His face turns red and cries in mourning for his son.

It was November 2, 2020. Sometimes a person subconsciously bids the last farewell, like the day when Dawood did not want to leave the yard of his house. He was running a little late but he stayed longer and talked more with his father. After that, he went to the yard with his university bag, said goodbye once and came back again. He walked around in the yard, then glanced at the window to wave goodbye, and left.

Haji Ishaq was at home when he found out that Kabul University was attacked. His son and two of his family’s sons-in-law went to the university. Dawood’s phone was on but he did not answer. As time went on, these unanswered calls turned into deeper apprehensions that took root in their hearts.

The old man sometimes recited the Qur’an, sometimes prayed, and sometimes turned the prayer beads with his trembling hands. It was four o’clock and there was no news yet. He dialed Dawood again with his mobile phone, but this time it was turned off. Haji Ishaq says: “As soon as I saw it was silent, my heart was pounding. I found out that the child was killed! The women of the house were all crying and there was a commotion. No one was talking about food or water, and no one was talking to anyone.”

It was past dinner when the door to the house was opened by the sound of several men crying. They did not dare to call and inform in advance. There was a shout from the courtyard, “We brought Dawood, not with his own feet but on our hands.” The lifeless body of the little boy was brought home. Suddenly, Dawood’s sister shouted that Haji “Baba” had fainted. He could not bear the death of his son. He wished to see him in a groom’s suit, but that wish remained unfinished.

Neighbors found out one after another. It is a neighborhood in the town of Omid Sabz where everyone knows each other. Some cried and others said their last farewell with Dawood and shook their heads, “What a pity for his youth!” One person said, “Dawood came the day before to ask me to take him to work/daily labor on Fridays, he needed money.” Another said, “It was a pity that his English course was nearing the end,” said another. In the same way, the narratives/stories rotated and became intertwined.

Dawood’s acquaintances found him drowned in blood after waiting for several hours in front of Kabul University and visiting various hospitals in a 400-Bed Hospital. Several rounds of bullets took his life. Then the narration of Zainab, his classmate, comes to mind, who said, “I was on my way to death. When the sound of gunfire calmed down, I raised my head a little, I saw blood gushing from Dawood’s hands, he was groaning, he was groaning a lot!”

Neighbors surrounded Ishaq and his family, offering both consolation and planning for the lost young man’s burial. The next day Dawood was buried in the hill of the martyrs of the Roshnayi movement, and after that day nothing normal happened to Ishaq.

Dawood’s father’s bitter laughter in response to the peace talks is meaningful. “First of all, the government should make it clear which wicked people benefited from the death of our children? The Taliban prisoners were released and in turn, our children were killed. There is no such thing as peace. There is no peace with the massacre of young people. Do you deceive yourself or the people? I wish there was peace, I wish there was peace before my young son was killed. In Doha, find the root of these bloodshed, ask the Taliban, what benefit did they get from killing all the young people? What do these people achieve that did not stop after what happened to Kabul University? Everyday a young person dies, every day the back of a father breaks with the loss of his child. What do they achieve by this at the end?”

Now that days have passed since that incident, nothing is the same for Dawood’s father. He is not the only grieving man of this land, but also one of the forgotten fathers who are still mourning in their lonely corner. They are still crying and life may not be good for them any time soon. After nearly three months, everything is normal for other people and the bloody event at Kabul University turned into history. A new day and a new event…