Immigration to Safest place? But actually not!

By Ahmad Shaiq

 I came back for school on January 21 2016. First week of transferred semester was very interesting and very good until Friday night. I went to New Jersey for visiting my friends after my last Psychology class finished at 1:00pm on Friday, 29 January, spend a really good time with friends until 11:00 pm, my friends asked me stay with them and go back home in morning because it is too long way and too much driving, on other hand since they were here long time than I am, they said we recommend you don’t commute to much nights.” Seriously its USA not Afghanistan, come on we are in safe place not in active war zone, and it’s not Afghanistan” I replied with smile. Then I drove back to home, Albany. New place where my roommates Mustafa and Ali rented on time I was in India with family for winter break. I knew Mustafa from my previous university in Kabul. We were classmates, and reason I moved to Albany he was. Ali was Mustafa’s colleague in his last job with US Army contractor company in Afghanistan. When I arrived home it was 2 o’clock in morning, dark streets, silence all around the houses, lights were turning on if someone walking in front of the apartment, no one seemed in area, I was looking for parking spot to park my car on same street where we live, Dana Ave close to Washington Park Albany NY.  But there was no space for my car in this block that night, I took a right turn and went to the next street and found a parking spot for my car. Parked my car, took my phone and wore my jacket. Inside the car was really warm, but outside was a really Albany winter weather. I locked the car doors and started walking to my apartment which was about 3 min walks from where I parked my car. It was really enjoyable smoking a Marlboro cigarette in winter night with stars on clean sky on top of my head, not thinking of any risks or threats because I am here, in US, the safest place in world. “my thoughts before incident happened”.

Before I immigrated to USA, I was working with US Army in an active war zone as interpreter, team leader, and senior administrative officer for four years in Afghanistan. Most of our missions had required travels to red zones in order to complete tasks accurately and efficiently. Several times my team and I faced bomb explosions which were not too ironic there, because it was war zone. I do remember very well a terrorist attack to our office which started by car explosion and more than two hours’ active combat between Afghan National Security Forces and Taliban in front of Green Village Compound, where I worked. That time I was walking to compound gate and the differences of approaching to gate and attack was just 5 minutes. But getting shot in front of my apartment in Albany New York, USA was strange and unbelievable for an Afghan who born and lived entire or portion of his life in mostly civil wars such as Mujahedin wars after Russian had been withdrawn from Afghanistan 1992-1996, Taliban wars 1996-2001, US attack to Afghanistan after 9/11, and 15 years unfinished US and NATO fight against Al-Qaida and Taliban.   

Finally, I arrived to my apartment door. We were living on second floor of a decent house with small windows. I did a quick standing to throughout the cigarette, not even thinking of someone followed me from where I parked my car. One thing I understood from first week of being in school campus was, “when smoking, someone defiantly will ask for a cigarette”. Back in Afghanistan smoking is different because no one asking for a cigarette unless he is your friend or know you enough. Then I turned my face toward the door, a guy total in black dressed and cover faced was walking in front my apartment. he suddenly turned his face and started walking toward me, I thought he is asking for a cigarette, Ooops…, but the scenario changed and I was totally wrong, he was a robber with a gun. Scary moment ….

His gun was on my face within seconds and started screaming on me: “Shut up, Shut up “. For me it was first time facing this situation. My mind stop working, I was already dead, but since he was not asking for money in first seconds I thought he might kill me for no reasons.  As I learned some self-defense technique from my father, he is colonel, who was one of among thousand’s who fought against Soviet Union and had a really good experience of self-defenses which he learned through Mujahidin trainings, and after 9/11 attack and forming of new government he took a military position in Afghanistan Army. He trained me how to take control of this situations back in home when I was senior in high school. I defeated him and putted his hand down, the one which he had gun with it. while I was trying to catch his gun, he punched me in face and run about 40 feet then start shooting at me. The first bullet went away but second one caught my left leg. The moment he started shooting there was no expectancy for life. I felt the shot in leg and imagined I lost whole leg, I screamed loudly my friends name: “Mustafa, Mustafa, Mustafa, Ali, Ali, Ali ………. “until they came out, it took around 2 minutes, because both of them were slept and no one expected this happen.

“Hello, hello, Police, my friend got shot in leg. 86 Dana Ave Albany……. Ambulance is coming Shaiq” Mustafa was telling me while scared and holding me.

Ali was shocked and it was his first time seeing someone shot even worse his friend and roommate. He even couldn’t talk. Just asking “Shaiq, Shaiq, Shaiq….”

The strange thing was that my neighbor who lives in first floor and was close to the incident place than my friends even did not turn his light on to see what is going on in front of his house. Back in Afghanistan my neighbor was like my family member and there is an Afghan slogan “One neighbor is close than hundreds relatives!” because neighbors live close to us than our relatives. I do remember when my father discharged from operation, my neighbor which seems we are like family, cooked delicious Afghani meals and visit my father as soon as he found about him.  

Police alarms heard, blue and red lights flashed, finally police cars, ambulance, and fire fighter car arrived in incident scene. “Police always arrives after principle” Mustafa said and looks angry, because when they arrived suspect was no longer in area. Cops, alarms, lights and noises….  were looks like we were in a live movie shooting moment, but it was not movie, it was real crime scene. Officers started investigation and implementing all their rules and regulation with hundred questions. One of questions was: “where are you from?” officer asked me.

“Afghanistan” I answered while my leg was bleeding and my pent was wash by my blood.

“You have seen a lot of this staff back in home” officer, with little laughing face.

“Yeah, I saw, but no one shot me in leg in front of my house back there. Even it was war zone?” me, really serious face and angry tone.

Finally, AMT officers brought stretcher and carried me to Ambulance. We went to Albany Medical center which is really close to apartment where I live.  My roommates had to come on their own cars to hospital and wait for hours. Ambulance arrived in Albany Medical Hospital emergency room. Doctors moved me with stretcher to operation room. All staff, doctors, nurses were there because 911 reported gunshot incident, but when they saw me, after 2 minutes’ every one left except a doctor and a nurse.

“You’re so lucky, or someone has you in prays”, doctor told me, because the bullet just burns your skin and upper tissue of your leg not leg’s bone. “we are going to discharge you after stapling the area in about 15 minutes’” nurse.

It was around 5 am, I have been discharged from hospital while Mustafa and Ali were waiting for two and half hours and thinking what should we say to Ahmad’s family back in Afghanistan if something happen?  the weather was little lither and we all three were walking to home, and making joke of the robber, that he has to take more training for shooting in head than leg. We laughed and felt like nothing happened. But Saturday was even worse than that night. My friend killed by a robber in Houston Texas. When I heard his death news I totally forgot what happened to me and even my parents didn’t know about this incident until I went to Afghanistan for summer vocation. When my family found about incident they were against of me coming back to state. “we allowed you living in state because of your safety, but it looks you should stay with us and live here” my parents said to me after they notice about my leg while I was swimming in our garden pool.  “but how about my university? My future? And dreams I have? “I asked questions from my parents. Finally, it took me two months to convinced my parents that the only reason I am going back to state was higher education and my future career.