They brought him drenched in blood, and his sister broke forth in a dirge: “Lo here comes our brother, dressed in rose petals” Pashtun war song 1
WE WERE TAKEN to a pomegranate orchard across the road from the American-built canal, not far from Aghrendab Bazaar. Along the sides of the dusty road, trucks were parked in the midday sun while their drivers slept beneath them. The tires were mysteriously shrouded in rags. In the orchard the intensely red flowers were still on the trees and there were also small fruits. Again we waited. Wahidi and Hakenberg came back with toffees and I ate one piece after another.
Two or three hours later, we walked over to the town villa. In a gloomy, warm room off the courtyard we drank tea with the two drivers, a sardonic Mutt-and-Jeff team of professionals who made the trip between Kandahar and Chaman regularly. The arranger who had lined up the motorcycles, normally loquacious, watched us with a cold, alert business face. The drivers were ill at ease. The short one silently devoted himself to dipping his toffee in his tea; the tall one said with sudden animation that if they were captured with these foreigners, they'd be on television and more famous than Mullah Whatisname who normally transported foreigners. He laughed harshly.
When I saw the motorcycles in the street, I couldn't believe it: there were five of us, and here was nothing more than two 100cc motorbikes…and one of them would have to carry three men! I expected three Jawas 350s, like the ones we had seen out at the camp. It was decided Hakenberg and I would ride on one bike with Qajir, the tall guy, Wahidi on the other with the short one.
We started slowly down back streets out of the bazaar sometime after 4 in the afternoon, April 27. At first I could hardly breathe, laminated between the driver and Hakenberg, feet bent back to the rear pegs. And the driver kept telling me to keep my knees out, which was an unnatural position and even more uncomfortable. It was almost impossible to avoid grievous pinching in the crotch, and every time the bike hit a bump there was danger of worse.