One of the officers that I mentor and work with told me a story that if true, makes him my new hero. I actually think it is as he showed me the physical evidence of what he was telling me.
We were discussing the corruption his country is faced with and the corrupt men that are in power. He talked about the days of the Soviet occupation and how bad that was. He talked about how repressive it was; no freedoms, constant fear – not a pleasant place to be.
He talked about being imprisoned for speaking out against the system. He would have to have been in the military at the time. I didn’t ask if it was the military that imprisoned him, but it was definitely the Soviets that put him in prison.
He told me about the torture that he went through; electric shock, the beatings. He told me that one time he was on the ground when a guard stomped on his hand with his boot. He held out his fingers to show me the lasting results; crooked fingers. He had me feel one of his finger nails where you could feel a definite ridge in the nail. He said it was scar tissue left over after all these years that continued to cause the nail to feel that way.
He then smiled and said that things were much better now. Even though he talked about the corrupt system and the challenges that they’re facing, he said “since you’re here” – pointing to me any my legal NCO – “things are going to get better.”
Here was a man who has seen so much – the Soviet invasion and occupation, their overthrow by the Mujahadeem, the rise and fall of the Taliban and now us. Even though he’s seen all this, he’s still positive that something good will rise from the ashes that Afghanistan is now. If he has hope, then I guess I can too.