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The thud of dough against the walls of a bakery oven; the wail of prayer and the buzz of a helicopter… these where the sounds of the morning of 1 October 2006. I remember the light gleaming, radiating from the high walls as if the dust itself were gold.

I was just streets away when the thud came from behind. The ground trembled like the skin of a drum, my legs buckled and my bones shook. Ears ringing, I squinted at the corona of fiery smoke that stained the sky. The shouting was distant. Like a sleepwalker I staggered forward.

Shattered fragments took shape – the scorched carcass of a car, a pointed structure twisted, metal shards swaying in the wind like snakes, a textbook flung open, papers raining like feathers, windows shattered and tables smashed, a military vehicle in pieces, tree branches charred on the road, a tangle of prayer hats, and other things too awful to describe. Turbaned men and blue-uniformed policemen shouted words I did not understand.

Some brought cloths to cover those beyond hope. Others lifted the injured. People sat dazed on the ground, immobile, bloodied. And now, suddenly, the face of an angel, untouched. I opened my eyes and saw only shadows, glimpses of forms that bore no relation to their former selves.

It was a few more days before I fully took in what had happened. Kites still fluttered in the evening sky, dancing from the rooftops as they had always done, but no matter how hard the wind whistled it couldn’t blow away the pain. The people bore their sorrow with such fortitude you might have been tricked into believing they had put it behind them It was that killer Afghan pride again.

Extracted from Dancing with Darkness