‘The Idol’s Dust’ by Zalmay Babakohi


From Words Without Borders:

Boom . . . m . . . m . . .

The terrible sound of something exploding and collapsing . . .

The awe of explosion and dynamite . . .

A huge amount of explosives had been used. The devastating explosion, accompanied by the loud cries of god-is-greater that made the throats of the Talibs quiver, set the earth atremble; a dense, impenetrable cloud of dust billowed up into the sky.

The explosion tore the Buddha from the embrace of the mountain and flung it into the valley. The Buddha had been shattered, and a large mound of pebbles had piled up beneath. The great Buddha had broken to pieces and disintegrated into millions of smaller Buddhas.

The sound of the explosion filled the whole Bamiyan valley. The sound waves moved in all directions, collided with mountains and peaks, went back, filled the hollow cavity where the Buddha had been, lamented and spread their mourning across the vast expanses, far and near.

Smoke and dust obscured the sky. The mass of dust rose above the valley and dispersed, fighting through, wrapped up in the wind, and the wind, entangled in the dust. It stretched out over mountains, ravines, and valleys. Particles of dust from the Buddha rained down far and wide like a rain cloud.

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