Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Good Samaritan Tale

A tale has been told of a young boy, we’ll call him Amir, playing with some sticks he’s fashioned into toys and eavesdropping on his father, entertaining guests in a small house in the mountains of Afghanistan. Suddenly, there’s a bright light, a loud noise and everything goes black. When Amir awakes, he finds his home in ruins and all his family dead. At seven, he is the lone survivor and he is on his own.

The neighbors tell him it was a drone attack, that foreign invaders bomb their country to make the people afraid and take their resources. Amir has made an enemy. His journey begins slowly, running errands and cooking food. Soon he becomes a look-out, and a very good one. His stealth earns him a promotion and he begins planting roadside bombs, then helping to build them, then deciding where they will be placed.

A decade later, he is a man, even though he’s been an adult far longer than children should have to be. He’s moving along a mountain road from one village to another when he comes upon the remains of a recent ambush. A foreign soldier lies on the side of the road ahead, he must have been thrown from his vehicle during the chaos.

Amir ducks behind some rubble as the soldier’s unit returns, running quickly. They glance at their fallen comrade and then back at their pursuers and hurry on. Later, an investigative team arrives, checking the road for clues and unexploded devices. They too ignore the soldier on the side of the road.

Finally, when the coast is clear, Amir ventures out. This is a profound moment for him. Despite all of his experience, he’s never met an invader up close. Surely the soldier is dead or the others would have helped him. Amir will take no chances. The images of his parents, his siblings, their bodies broken, their funerals dance in his head. He gripes the knife inside his cloak. He will make sure this soldier is dead.

As he approaches, the man moans and begins to roll over, clearly badly injured, but alive. They make eye contact. Amir gasps, drops his knife and staggers backwards. The image in his head has been transformed. As he stares at the soldier, he see’s something familiar. The blood, running down his face, sticking in his beard, the pain in his eyes. Quickly, those eyes become the eyes of Amir’s father, the blood, his blood, the pain, his pain. Amir’s heart melts.

Amir could do nothing as a young boy, but he could do something now, as a man. Quickly his mind begins to assess the damage. He looks around – there’s a village not far, with some friends. He could hide the soldier in a back room until his wounds heal enough. His reputation and authority should keep the soldier hidden well enough. There is money and medical supplies stashed away. They should do. If not he could find more. This man must not die.

As Amir regained his bearing and approached the soldier, he saw the pistol. The soldier had retrieved it, with great effort, and was pointing it in Amir’s direction. The soldier was in no position to fight and his wounds demanded hurry. So Amir kept coming. The shot rang out and echoed through the valley, then another. Neither had hit Amir, but the look in the soldier’s eye had changed from pain to fear.

Amir did all he could to assuage that notion. But he spoke only his native tongue and there was really not much time. With his injuries, the soldier’s aim was terrible, but at close range it would be good enough. In the end, his bullets held out longer than his heart and by the time Amir was able to reach him, he was gone.

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