The Guardian has put a content warning on this piece—for its graphic depictions of war—and it’s not something to be read lightly. It paints a vivid picture of a child’s suffering in a previous conflict and heightens our awareness of those who are currently living under a barrage of bombs. It’s chilling, it’s powerful, it’s important.
The simmering fear of violence that we had felt every day now turned into terror. Kabul was shelled relentlessly for months. Food and water became scarce. Each day, we received news of more deaths among our family, friends and neighbours. I lived in an extended family of several uncles and aunts and my granny, and it became our family ritual to pray for the dead before eating supper. My grandmother would lead the prayers. My four little siblings and I would follow, scared and confused by death. My heavily pregnant aunt looked numb, all expression drained from her, as if she needed reminding to move her arm and her hand to reach the food on the plate in front of her.