Posted BY: Karen McKay

In an Afghan cave, men slept rolled up in their plates, the thin woolen shawl that served as blanket, cloak, camouflage, shelter, and shroud. In the dark, a small shape stirred and slipped silently out of its patu. There was no sound but snoring from the other shapes. The light from a small, dying fire reflected on a steel blade in the hand of the small shape, a boy of perhaps ten or twelve hard years.

He had wandered, a scrawny, dirty, barefoot kid, into the mujahed camp, starved, begging for food. The muj took him in, wrapped him in a patu, shared their food with him, and treated his sores. The child’s pathetic story was a common one. Half of Afghanistan’s preinvasion population was dead or displaced. Many of the living were maimed, starved, and sick, and their orchards, crops, and livestock were destroyed. 

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