News & Politics

Our Man in Afghanistan


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

August 24, 1961, Vol. VI, No. 44

Our Man in Afghanistan

By Tobias Schneebaum

Afghanistan is really the end of the world; the roads, the buses, the trucks, the drivers are by far the worst I’ve seen anywhere…

So it was that one night the police put me on a stacked truck in Kandahar, along with a German hitchhiker and 54 other passengers, all riding on top. It was too crowded for anyone to sleep. In the morning, somewhere, most of the truck was emptied of most of its cargo and people and we started again on our way to Mukur.

At exactly 1 p.m. I heard a terrible crack and felt as if I were being whirled through the air. That’s all. Sounds of “Allah! Allah!” reached me and someone rolled off of me. My hand came down from my face and it was wet with blood.

More and more cries of “Allah! Allah!” Someone tried to pick me up and I screamed with pain, but I was dragged into the desert by the side of the road. Hans, the German, came over, his whole face seeming to stream with blood. My small bag was propped under my head and I whined and whined for a doctor. A fat man came over and said there was a doctor in Mukur, which was only 5 kilometers away, and some men had gone to get him.

My arm, it later turned out, had been dislocated at the shoulder. Hans sat with me and tried to position it for less pain, but nothing would help, and it began to get worse and worse. I could see a man staring at me, his scalp slashed in two. Another man had a horribly twisted leg with a splinter of shinbone coming out of the flesh. These were the only two I could see…

I don’t remember any of the eight-hour trip, but they say we went through a freak torrential rainstorm most of the time, with bridges out, having to ford rivers. I was taken into the hospital and drugged for what remained of the night and felt infinitely better the next day. And now I’ll be in a sling for at least three weeks.

But it is an amazing country and the pity is that I cannot travel around here any more in these vehicles…

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]


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