By Melanie J. Knox, Page Editor
As I Wish
He fidgeted nervously on the train seat. Several times, he stopped an attendant to make sure he was on the right train, pointing to a piece of paper with the name of his stop; he didn’t speak the language.
He was very thin, with dark eyes, hair and skin and had only a small suitcase with him. Three of us-Rachel McGuire, Ryan Berdinner and I-were sitting with him in the four seats that faced each other, leaving Munich, Germany, for Salzburg, Austria.
When the train began to move, Ryan turned to our seat companion and said with true Texas friendliness, “What’s your name?”
The young man muttered something none of us could understand and pulled out the papers he kept so handy.
That name was certainly one we had never heard before, and I wrote it down.
“Where are you from?” Ryan asked.
We didn’t understand his answer at first, but what he had said finally sank in.
We all tensed up.
I don’t know why Awalsaman decided to talk to us. Maybe because he was scared and alone, maybe because we asked too many questions. Regardless, here is the story he told us.
Awalsaman knew of course, that we were Americans, and he did not hesitate to tell us that he did not like either Americans or Christians.
Born on February 10, 1982, he was raised in a wealthy Muslim family. He has a father, mother, two brothers and two sisters. Right now they are all separated, as they flee the terror of the Taliban bombing.
“Taliban is bad,” he said over and over again.
For two years he fought as a soldier and stole many innocent lives, he said.
By this time, my journalistic instinct had taken over, and I was attempting to discreetly write every word he said.
“Osama say to me, ‘You are Muslim. Come fight.’ I say, ‘ I am Muslim, but I not fight with you.’ Osama say, ‘If you not fight, you are not Muslim, and I kill you.’ I say ‘No,’ and then I run.”
Awalsaman talked about bombs going off in the streets, children crying. He painted a horrible picture of life. But he loves his country and said frequently how he wanted to go back.
Glancing out the train window at the green, rolling hills and the thick trees, he shook his head. Then he waved his hands at the window and said loudly, “Jungle, jungle, all jungle!” We passed a break in the trees where you could see for miles and he smiled, but almost immediately the trees returned and he put his head in his arms in defeat.
We talked about religion, and he minced no words telling us that Christians were going to hell. He mimicked Christianity and its failures and tried, in broken English, to mimic our prayers.
We asked if we could pray for him. Awalsaman seemed doubtful.
“You pray to your God for me and I pray to my God for you, and then maybe it work.”
When the two hours were over, and we were nearing his stop, I asked if we could take a picture with him. Awalsaman had really connected with Ryan, and while he wasn’t that impressed with the whole idea of taking a picture, he enjoyed feeling special as we clustered around him.
Before he got off the train, we told him again that we wished him safe travel and that we would pray for him and asked him if he still disliked Americans.
He shrugged, smiled, and said, “Well, I guess I like Americans.”
I connected with Afghanistan that day, and the people in the country finally became real to me. So as you pray for our troops and our men who are over in a foreign land, remember the rest of God’s suffering children, and pray for their deliverance as well, physical and spiritual.
I want to see Awalsaman again someday.