October 17, 2019

A Young Life Ends After 4 Steps on Video, and Afghans Can’t Stop Watching

A Young Life Ends After 4 Steps on Video, and Afghans Can’t Stop Watching


The store was closed, with a notice in the window showing information about Mr. Fazelyar’s funeral services and his picture. Salesmen gathered outside the shop and consoled each other.

“God only invites the best to himself,” one added.

Often the most difficult task after a bombing is figuring out whether someone is dead or alive, and trying to identify a loved one among bodies that are unidentifiable, looking for a hint of cloth, a ring, a watch.

Immediately after the explosion, Mr. Fazelyar’s assistant and fellow salesmen began calling his phone repeatedly to see if was safe. Eventually, it was answered by an intelligence officer who had helped clear the blast site. He broke the news. Mr. Fazelyar’s friends found his body in the morgue, recognizable because in sprinting away from the attack his back had borne the brunt of the damage.

At the site of the attack the next morning, traffic was running as usual. Electricians repaired scorched wiring, residents in a nearby Soviet-built apartment block swept broken glass just like they had many times before, and just like they would again after another bombing the following week. Part of the American S.U.V.’s roof dangled from the branches of a pine tree about 200 yards away. Near a ditch was the gutted pouch of a soldier’s meal — “Grilled Jalapeño Pepper Jack Flavored Beef Patty.”

Mr. Fazelyar was buried in his home village in Parwan Province, north of Kabul. Funeral services were held for him in Kabul two days after, at a crowded mosque that hosted nine funerals at the same time, at least two of them victims of the war.

Since then, the security camera footage of his last moments has gone viral around the country, shared compulsively among a people who feel stalked by death.

“The whole of Afghanistan saw the video,” said one man, Ezatullah, who was at the mosque for one of the other funerals. “He even ran from it a few steps, but death sucked him right back in.”



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