AZROW, Afghanistan — A father in this remote village in eastern Afghanistan is being roundly but silently mocked by local teenagers for making his daughter wear a hand-me-down bomb belt in an upcoming suicide attack.
“My dad literally thinks it’s still the Dark Ages,” said the 16-year-old, whose name is not important. “He doesn’t even know that fashion exists. He wants me to wear this thing and pretend it’s a normal bomb belt, but it looks like a donkey collar.”
The father, 41-year-old poppy farmer Abdul Ghfar, insists that the bomb belt is “perfectly fine” and that no one will see it anyway, if everything goes as planned. He inherited the item from his eldest sister who was scheduled to carry out a similar suicide mission in 2011 but fell ill and died a few days before.
Ghfar’s daughter worries that even if the accessory is tightly packed with explosives and hidden under her burqa, other teenagers will see the outlines of the old-fashioned shoulder straps. She’s also embarrassed that the handsome guards at the Ministry of Education building will mistake her for an old woman as she runs past them to blow up innocent people inside.
“I’m probably gonna die of embarrassment before I manage to detonate anything,” she said.
What is especially aggravating for the daughter is that other female suicide bombers get belts made by Palwasha, a local seamstress whose aunt from Kabul taught her the secrets of making slim, form-fitting bomb belts that accentuate the hips.
“My stupid bomb belt looks like it was made by some grieving Mujahideen widow from Helmand Province who couldn’t keep her hands from shaking with vengeful fury,” the daughter said.
“Life sucks,” she added.
Ghfar, whose eldest son is currently away at a militant training camp in Pakistan, says he is frustrated by his daughter’s wishes to look like the other female suicide bombers.
“When I was young, we just accepted whatever armaments were given to us to fight the Soviets,” he said. “Stinger missiles, pulwar swords, dynamite, even large stones — it was all the same. We didn’t complain. We were content just to have our feet intact after spending our childhoods harvesting poppies in minefields.”
“Kids today are spoiled,” he added.