Anticipating the next mission before him, Ron took in his surroundings. Donkeys were hauling loads of handmade bricks; men struggled on their wobbling bikes and women scurried along in their blue burkhas, avoiding any undue attention. His rucksack laid at his feet. It contained ammo for his M4 carbine, a compact version of the M16A2 rifle, which was designed for Urban warfare. It enabled Ron and other soldiers to operate more efficiently in close quarters.
While taking in the sights, one particular visual caught Ron’s attention and stopped his thought process for a brief moment. One block away, standing near a small vaulted house made of mud and brick, Ron watched a small group of women wearing their powdered blue-colored burkhas. Although their faces were hidden beneath the fabric lining of their veils, he could tell that they were watching him as they talked excitedly and giggled amongst themselves. Ron smiled sheepishly and looked away as if he did not notice them.
To his astonishment, one of the six girls, who stood head and shoulders above the rest, beckoned him with her hand. “Come here!” The girl called out in English.
Startled, Ron looked to his left and right, wondering if any of the locals were watching, and then, looking back at the group, slowly shook his head sideways.
“Yes, please! It is okay! You are seeking the clinic?” The voice called out again. Ron could not tell who actually spoke, but her command of the English language impressed him.
Ron wondered. How could an Afghan girl out here in the middle of nowhere speak English, so well? I wonder what she knows about the clinic.
Although they were told not to speak to the women in public, Ron took a chance and after looking to his right and then his left once again, he walked over towards the group. The girls stood their ground as he approached, somewhat surprising him since he thought that they would disperse as he got closer.
Stopping a few feet away, Ron thought about what he might say. Looking at the tallest girl he began speaking in Dari. “Salam. Chetoori (Hello. How are you)?”
“Man khoobam, mersi (I’m fine thank you).”
“You speak English very well.” Ron added. “Where did you learn it?”
The tallest girl answered and said, “I can speak four languages, Dari, Pashto, English, and Russian.”
“That’s very impressive.”
“I am a nurse here, and this is a clinic. Did you bring some spare medical supplies that you can provide for us? Did you come to help us?”
“Yes, in fact, we did come here to help you. This is the clinic?”
The other girls giggled because, according to the girl speaking to Ron, they had not heard English being spoken so fluently between two people.
“This is wonderful that you can come. Please, get your things and come inside. We will be very happy for you to help us, and it is wonderful if you could spare anything at all. We are always in such great need of supplies.”
“Sure, let me get my partner and my supplies and we’ll be back.”
“Yes, thank you so much! Hurry please.”
Just then a local man dressed in a traditional mix of clothing that included a large white cotton-fabric head-dress, emerged from the bazaar. He wore a collarless, lightweight cotton, loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt that hung down over his wide trousers gathered on a drawstring. A fine embroidered design covered portions of his shirt on the front. Two to three others joined him wearing similar clothing.
Ron sensed a little trouble as the group of girls scattered into the clinic, disappearing quickly from sight. The one who spoke with Ron allowed all of the other girls to go inside first as she stood in the doorway.
Ron watched them disappear into the building and began to walk away when the girl suddenly removed her veil from her face and said, “My name is Shararah. Please come back with supplies as soon as you can.” Then, she stood there for a brief moment smiling at him as if leaving him a reason to come back with the medical supplies.
Stunned, Ron stopped dead in his tracks, speechless by both her unsuspecting beauty and her apparent intelligence. Her almond shaped eyes sparkled through her smooth, nearly perfect light skin and painted eyelashes. Her quick smile exposed flawless, shiny white teeth, lined in perfect rows like a picket fence surrounding a beautiful garden.