AFGHANISTAN – Little Aaseya Nadir, a charming ten-year old from Afghanistan with sparkling eyes and long, curly hair, says she’s got a special message for one of the United States’ most respected basketball players, Kobe Bryant.
“I know what it’s like to only have one leg to use,” Aaseya says. “It’s tough, so I feel like I know what Kobe Bryant is going through. I cried too when I lost my leg. Except I lost my right. Kobe hurt his left.” Nadir said she’s praying for Kobe, and she hopes that, unlike her leg, his will soon get better.
Nadir lost her right leg last September when NATO forces fired a lightweight missile at a pickup truck believed to be carrying a member of the Taliban. While the driver of the pickup, and his wanted passenger were killed, ten-year old Aaseya was playing in the dirt nearby when a large chunk of metal blew off the vehicle and landed on her leg.
Now, residing in a dusty camp built by U.S. military forces for children and families who have been wounded or lost their homes because of the American invasion, Aaseya shares a room with two dozen other Afghanistan children, many who have arms or legs or part of their faces missing from NATO gunfire, Taliban IEDs, or misapplied drone strikes. Her parents had been killed earlier in the year by a Hellfire missile attack, and her brother, in 2011, never returned when he had left to collect firewood. He is still unaccounted for.
The children living in the camp huddle around one 15-inch television set that was built in 1992 and delivers a picture that is almost always snowy. Nadir sits upright when she sees the American newscast about how Los Angeles Lakers superstar, Kobe Bryant, tore his Achilles tendon the other night. She puts her hands together and sends him a prayer.
“Sometimes,” she says with a smile, “I still feel my missing leg. It’s like it’s still there, especially when I wake up in the morning and feel it itching. I even try to scratch it sometimes.” Two of the other children, one with a noticeable dent in his skull, and the other child missing his right forearm, giggle.
When the NATO helicopter swung around again that day to blast anybody who dared check for survivors at the scene of the explosion, the one man who was running toward the little girl to help her was cut down in a line of fire from one of the helicopter’s mounted machineguns.
Aaseya said the machine gun fire sounded “like many pops” but she could barely hear it after the deafening roar of the missile attack that had just taken out the member of the Taliban. She would pray for that man, she said, but he’s already past the pain and suffering.
There’s only so much praying a ten-year old girl can do. Meanwhile, with the well-wishing legions of Lakers fans praying for Kobe, little Aaseya Nadir bravely joins the chorus.