The Thin Veil of Hate

The Thin Veil of Hate

He lay on the ground with bullet wounds near his heart. There was nothing that could be done as his life became defined by minutes. He was Taliban, and moments before he had ambushed an Afghan soldier killing him with a shot to the head that removed part of that soldier’s skull. Now a victim himself, this Taliban fighter lay at my feet, choking out a dull moan of pain as his breath slowed. A shaved head, a trimmed beard, dressed in brown Afghan pants and top, he turned to his side to die.

Hate is shown in the eyes. A life focus that drives their every move. It consumes them, and becomes a part of a belief system that they erect. In itself, hate becomes a religion, tied to promises of redemption and reward through killing and dying for a professed righteousness in cause. It is not Muslim, though they claim it to be. It matters not, for hate is rooted in a belief structure that seethes from the bowels of frustration, emptiness, jealously, and want. It is a vile emotion that provides no middle ground, only life as they see it, or release through death.

As he lay there on the ground I watched his eyes dart back and forth; the visual groping that seeks answers to all of the promises that were made. In these last few moments, his eyes spoke the prayers of the Koran, asked Allah for his blessing, and reached for the sight of the promised seventy-seven virgins. All he saw was blue sky, green grass, and the hand of an American medic pulling back after trying to stay his death. I watched as he exhaled, then turned his head to the side as if to vomit, only to find a dry mouth and coagulated phlegm.

As the seconds ticked on, and his life drew to a close, the veil of promise and hate began to recede. His desire for life returned, as he now searched desperately to live; his eyes hopelessly seeking help from the very people he lived to destroy. He was beyond the reach of the medic now. He was slipping away to the greater mystery of our existence: death. He was in the final moments of discovery, in which the truth of all that he had lived for and now died for would be revealed. He would soon know the variety of the promise’s made, as his eyes revealed the most most powerful emotion stored within his soul- he revealed fear.

As the body of the dead Afghan soldier was carried down from the mountain, this Taliban who lived for the destruction of all things western, all things infidel, died. Abandoned in the fight by his comrades, his final darting glances of desperation revealed the ultimate truth: he was now alone.

scott kesterson
freelance photojournalist
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