ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT
from the EDITING ROOM FLOOR : interview : hikmat
Hikmatullah - or hikmat - was 13 years old in December, 2014, when we RECORDED HIS STORY during a 50-minute audio interview
THE TRANSLATION FROM DARI IS EXACT, with some [notes].
T378_1.WAV - T379_1.WAV
INTERVIEW WITH HIKMAT
INTERVIEW: SABOOR ARGHANDIWAL
SOUND: JAMES LONGLEY
We were riding in a car
and the driver was going so fast.
My father told him to “slow down
so we don’t have an accident,”
and the driver said “okay.”
When were near the gate of the ministry,
there was a gigantic boom.
I passed out.
Half the people were lying on the street.
Half the people were lying on the street.
Others were running.
Others were covered in blood.
They were lying on the street.
They could not stand;
their arms and legs were blown off.
Their arms and legs were blown off.
They were lying on the ground, looking around;
there was nobody to help them,
to take them away.
The ambulance came after 5 minutes;
They took everyone away.
My father and I walked away.
My head was wrapped in a neckerchief.
We were looking for Naveed -
- to take my brother -
My father took my brother out of the car.
When we went back, those soldiers pointed their guns at us.
We lay on the ground.
Some of the people knelt on the pavement.
Some of the people were standing.
The soldiers told us, “Don’t move.”
We raised our hands and my father told them
“We have a wounded person here. Can’t you see we are also wounded?”
By the time we took my brother out of the car
so many ambulances had arrived.
So many ambulances came and they took the people, and also us,
then the firefighters came and cleaned up all the blood and everything.
The ambulance was driving very fast.
When they took us
to the hospital
there were beds and doctors and everything.
They put us on the beds.
They inspected us and then took the martyrs to the morgue
and the wounded were written in the list of wounded.
They took me there [the room for wounded] and they stitched me up.
There was another man whose arm and leg had been blown off.
When they were sewing him the poor guy was screaming like anything.
He was yelling out: “Don’t do it, Mr. Doctor!”
The doctor answered him, “Just endure it if you want to survive.”
While they were sewing up his arm and leg
they were stitching up this place [points to right side of own face] because it was all torn up.
When it started hurting a lot I grabbed onto the railing of the bed until they finished.
They finished and my uncles came in after a few minutes.
They looked at the list of wounded
and he [Naveed] wasn’t there.
He wasn’t in the list of wounded so
they went to check the rooms for martyrs. [morgue]
My uncle went to the morgue
and they saw my brother as soon as they opened the door.
They started crying and yelling -
and I didn’t know because I was unconscious.
After they stitched me up -
Doctors were coming by every minute.
They said “Are you okay,”
and I replied “I’m fine, thank God,”
“how is my brother, Naveed?”
I was thinking about him constantly.
I loved his life more than my own.
I was asking: “Where is he?”
And they were saying, “He’s fine - you’re in worse shape than he is.”
“God willing, you’ll both be fine.”
They took him [Hikmat’s father] to his cousin’s house.
Then he changed clothes;
he changed into white clothes.
His uncle embraced him.
“Make your heart strong; your son has passed away.”
My father cried.
They cried, and then
they brought in [to the courtyard] the body.
For a few minutes my mother, grandfather and grandmother and the others
looked at him.
When they saw him like that
they fell senseless in the yard.
They took him away and buried him.
I barely heard the sound of the explosion;
it exploded with huge sound.
The car jumped high in the air
and when it landed
I was injured and fell senseless.
Some of the people were running away.
At the moment the explosion happened -
The car was stuck in traffic.
It was in traffic.
Suddenly the car jumped high in the air.
It jumped up high and landed hard.
All the windows shattered.
It was wintertime
so our windows were all rolled up.
The windows were shattered and the fragments flew at us along with gravel.
A piece of glass hit my brother in his vein [jugular?]
and he collapsed.
My face was also covered in glass and gravel.
My face was injured, and so was my father’s,
and the driver - everyone was collapsed on the ground.
At the same time, people were running away toward Murad Khani and 40 Meter Road.
Many people were lying on the pavement and the median.
They were lying injured from pieces of glass and gravel.
The policemen were coming at a run.
The policemen were looking out for other suicide bombers trying to explode themselves.
There was a lot of gunfire
and everyone scattered.
It was deserted;
there wasn’t a single soul,
just two or three passersby on the sidewalks.
Those people were running;
my father gave them a handkerchief to bind up my head.
When they bound it up
I felt hemmed in [claustrophobic]
and I pulled the kerchief down to my neck.
When I pulled it down to my neck it was covered in blood.
My father was jumping in front of cars. [trying to stop them]
There was no ambulance, and they were begging to be taken to the hospital, or home.
But nobody paid attention.
They were driving as fast as they could in their cars.
They were speeding past us.
My father held out his arms to them
but no car stopped.
They just drove past.
After five minutes
the ambulances arrived.
Those who are suicide bombers, or the like:
they will go to Hell.
They have no bright future, or anything.
They are killing the Muslims and their families.
No house has been untouched by this fire.
No house is left untouched
At the moment of the explosion
a piece of shrapnel went right into his brain and he died on the spot,
without even a whisper.
He couldn’t even say “Ah!”
When they took him to the hospital,
they said: “We’ve lost him now.”
Those doctors said.
And so they took him to the morgue.
My father also didn’t know about it for a couple of hours.
I felt so bad.
It would have been better had I died instead of him.
In that time,
I was in the hospital for four days
and when they took me home ...
They were just deceiving me:
“Your brother is injured and he’s in the same hospital.”
And others told me:
“Your uncle has taken him to be cured in a foreign country.”
“They’ll cure his legs.”
When I saw a crowd of people around [his house] -
When I saw the crowd of people I thought to myself:
“Maybe my brother was killed.”
I had different thoughts.
My cousin came and opened the door quickly.
I was sleeping in a room and all the people gathered around me.
Someone came, and they said:
“Come, she is here because of Naveed.”
The neighbor came because of Naveed.
[I thought] “Maybe Naveed has been killed, since everyone is coming because of him.”
She came because of Naveed.
My uncle told me - “No - she’s just stupid.”
I was sitting like that with my uncle’s mobile in my hand.
My grandfather told my father:
“Let’s tell the boy.”
So my father said,
“Come close to me.”
And when I did
my father told me there -
“By the will of God your brother was martyred and left this world.”
“My son, be strong.
You loved your brother a lot.”
And there I cried out loudly.
I could not contain it.
I said, “let’s go to his grave.”
and we went there.
We went to his grave,
we prayed there.
We recited the Holy Qur’an over him.
My father bought 14 kilos of oranges
and when the children and all the people came by
he gave them out as charity.
When we visited his grave on Fridays
we prepared sweets.
We went to his grave and handed out the sweets as charity on Fridays.
Sometimes when I remember him
my thoughts take me away.
We were always together.
We had a strong friendship.
Everywhere I went, he was with me -
everywhere we went, home or anywhere,
all my meals - everything was with him.
We were all sad - my father’s sisters,
my mother’s sisters,
but my father’s sister and mother’s sister were crying the most
with my father and mother.
When we went to his grave
my father’s sister beat the earth with her hands.
She put a handful of dust from the grave into her pocket
because she loved him a lot.
I get very sad,
and I wish he could also be with us.
I missed the funeral and the reception because I was in the hospital.
When my father tells me about it,
“Many people came to his funeral.”
19:12;41:07 [talking about his brother, Naveed]
His heart was always with the poor.
19:13:23:03 [day before the bombing]
That day it was a Friday.
He was very happy.
He was happy and walking together with all of his friends.
He went to his father’s sister’s house
to his mother’s sister’s house
and his grandfather and grandmother’s house.
He went everywhere and fetched water for everyone,
then went strolling
with his friends.
And the next day he was killed.
Every time I see a boy his age with his face
I am reminded of him.
When I’m alone in the shop
my heart grows heavy,
and I wish he were with me.
For example - when my father’s customers come,
when there’s a crowd,
I can’t fill their orders.
When he was alive it was good:
he would help me with the scales and bringing the sacks,
and he would take the peoples’ orders to them on a cart.
My brother was Naveed,
he was my brother.
He understood everything.
He was ranked second in his class;
he was intelligent,
and he kept second position until the fourth grade.
He was clever in English and the Holy Qur’an.
He was clever in all of his school subjects;
he understood and he studied.
My name is Hikmatullah.
I have a friend named Nabiullah.
They’re next to our shop. [Nabiullah’s father’s liver stand]
They sell liver kebab
and we sell groceries like flour and oil.
Their school is near Lahore Gate
and our school is in Ashakan-e-Arafan.
When we became friends [with Nabiullah]
I went to his house and he came to our house during Eid.
We have given each other the hand of brotherhood.
We’re always together,
every minute of the day.
We are good friends now.
He’s a very nice boy:
he’s very polite.
So we put our hands together in brotherhood,
and now we’re good friends and pals.
Little by little I got to be friends with him,
because I didn’t want to tell him straight away.
Maybe he would wonder what my reason was.
Little by little we became friends.
Friendship is good
- it’s enough.
Fighting with people and such …
We have seen so much pain and suffering.
Now I want to have friendship,
to bring peace to Afghanistan.
I saw Nabiullah at his stand [liver stand]
on the first or second day I came to the shop.
I saw that he was smiling at everyone.
He came and greeted me.
I liked him.
I thought - he’s a nice boy - so I said hello.
I sat with him and our friendship slowly grew
You can pass your time with him.
I saw my brother in a dream.
I was sleeping at home, and I dreamed about him in the night.
I was sleeping, and I saw that
light was pouring down
and he was dressed all in white.
He was clean and spotless
when I saw him.
“Naveed, what are you doing here - you were martyred.”
He said “I was martyred, but I have come to see you once again.”
He said “I come to see you every night,
but you can’t see me.”
I spoke with him for several minutes.
He said, “You can’t see me, but I can see you.”
He was wearing clean white clothes.
He was standing in the garden
and an old man came;
he said, “Naveed, my child,
let’s go - it’s time to eat.”
When he went away I awoke.
I woke up to the morning call to prayer.
It had been a long time;
I had even forgotten his face,
and I hadn’t seen him,
and I missed him so much.
So I asked God to send him to my dreams.
He came to my mother’s dream every hour.
My mother saw him often in her dreams.
He would come into my mother’s dreams,
and though my father wept -
he didn’t appear in my father’s dreams.
He was wearing a white cap on his head
and his clothes were shining white.