Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. An Afghan Village

Welcome to Rafik’s journey. The youngest character in Silent Heroes, Rafik travels from his Afghan village of Nauzad all around Afghanistan. It isn’t a journey made by choice, but out of necessity and bravery.

A critical political hot-spot for the past two millennia, Afghanistan is a country often mentioned in news headlines, yet one that few people choose to think of, and even fewer are aware of its natural beauty.

Life for Afghan children, the true Silent Heroes of any Afghan village

How was your life when you were a child of eight years old? When I was Rafik’s age, I wouldn’t even dream of going around the town on my own. My grandmother or my parents would still walk me to school. Yet Rafik and his friends venture daily outside their village.

boy and girl. Silent Heroes Afghan village
An Afghan boy a little younger than Rafik

They start their walk early, right after sunrise. It is a 10 kilometers march to the nearby stream to collect water for drinking, washing and cooking. Then they tread back, bent under the unforgiving Afghan sun and the liquid weight of their buckets and yellow plastic containers, for another 10 kilometers, home.

The water sings while their small feet dance on the hot sand. Sometimes a few drops would spill and the youngest children would laugh to see them roll away over land so dry that not even water can penetrate it. The older ones would scold them. Water is precious and they don’t want to take this journey again, later in the day. The sun is unforgiving and so are the landmines that litter the ground between their village and the stream, like weeds sprouting after rain, but planted by Taliban. So the youngest ones would burst into tears. That one word, Taliban, has this effect on them, as it has on their older sisters and their mothers.

Here, in Afghanistan, one does not need folk tales with monsters to tell their young. To scare them. Here, in Afghanistan, the monsters are real and they walk between the people.

Once a well-known bazaar, today Nauzad village, where Rafik lives with his mother and older sister, is no more than a ghost town, a dusty landmark lost in the shrub-lined valley of the Nauzad river. The only majestic landmark that still stands is that of the Hindu Kush Mountains, profiling in the horizon. With all their men gone to war, life has become a way of simply surviving from one day to the next, the hot climate being just as unforgiving as the Taliban insurgent group operating in the mountainous area rising in the north.

In the beginning of Silent Heroes Rafik is entrusted with a life-and-death mission…

‘Between their skirts, a skinny boy of eight moved along.’

‘Rafik wiped the salty drops invading his eyes with the dusty sleeve of his shirt, yellow-tinged by time and wear. His head was ablaze and sweat trickled down his neck, soaking the back of his pants. His feet bounced on the already hot sand. The boy was sure they looked like the naan his mom used to cook in the tandoor. Back when flour was still available. He would crawl behind her and grab fresh bread out of the basket to share with his friend. She would laugh and playfully snap at him. But not anymore. For the last year there had been no one for him to share his naan with.
One morning, his friend had left to fetch water and never returned. They found him on the field, halved by an IED.
Rafik felt his chest ready to explode with the pain of memories and wiped his eyes again, although no tears came. The rough sleeve against his face helped relieve the agony in his chest.’

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Afghan sunset over Hindu Kush mountains
an Afghan sunset

Placing an entire country on Google maps

I invite you to open Google maps and search for Afghanistan. Now zoom in. How many places can you actually visit? Why do you think it is still impossible to zoom into Afghan locations?

Did you know that the Afghan maps you do see today on Google Maps were not visible before October 2011? Most of Afghanistan was pretty much off the map.
A man named Hasen Poreya and his friends, the Afghan Map Makers, all volunteers, walked around Herat with pen and pencil in hand and filled in all the missing details from Google maps.

Herat is Afghanistan’s third largest city and it was a major historical landmark along the silk road. The Afghan Map Makers have put streets, parks and even the Herat University on the map – so that people from all over the world can discover their town all over again. They, too, are the Silent Heroes of any Afghan village.

Afghanistan before and after the Map Makers have added details on Google Maps
Afghanistan, before and after the Map Makers have added details on Google Maps (source, Google Maps blog)

Where will Rafik travel next?
Come back in a few days to find out – or subscribe to my blog posts.

Until then, you might like to read:
5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

Follow this blog:
error

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Humanity of U.S. Marines

5. Birthday Cake made of a soldier's meal ready to eat, MRE - heartbreaking in its humanity.

While researching for my latest book, contemporary fiction Silent Heroes, I discovered five secrets which I later revealed in my novel: one of them about the U.S. Marines’ true sacrifices. The other four secrets involve a hidden underground fortress, the hush-hushed holes in the military chain of command, a secret too dangerous to even be researched and shared, involving the Taliban, and one inconceivable in the 21st century, involving women’s rights.

Secrets revealed: U.S. Marines’ lifestyle in a war zone forward operating base, FOB

secrets revealed U.S. Marines Silent Heroes
Secrets revealed: U.S. Marines’ humanity and lifestyle at war

So many simple things we often take for granted, like the song of a bird, the peace of the early morning, or a birthday cake. These are all highly-priced commodities in a military base in Afghanistan. The smaller sized bases often don’t have a cook (or didn’t used to, at the very beginning of the War in Afghanistan), thus food reaches the soldiers in form of meals ready to eat, MREs.
MRE First Strike is provided to soldiers when they go on a mission outside the base. These include three meals in one pack, enough food for an entire day. The MREs have numbers, each number corresponding to a different menu.

A First Strike MRE contains enough food to last a U’S. soldier for an entire day. There are, individually wrapped: a bag of tuna, beef sandwich, tortillas, crackers, apple sauce, lemon pudding cake, dessert bar, corn nuggets, cheese spread, mayonnaise, pepper sauce, nut & raisins mix, various flavors energy bars, instant coffee, lemon-flavored powder beverage in a level-marked waterproof bag, also a tropical punch one, coffee creamer, coffee, sugar, salt, chewing gum, moist towel, napkins, matches, and a trash bag. All this amazing information was sourced from (but not limited to) Crazy Russian’s Hacker’s video. Have a look, he is extremely entertaining. It was my son who first introduced me to Taras Kulakov’ videos 🙂

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices

More secrets revealed regarding all Marines’ sacrifices.

Birthday Cake made of a soldier’s meal ready to eat, MRE – heartbreaking in its humanity.

When one of your platoon mates turns 21 and you are all deployed in Afghanistan, no way to source a cake with blue and red icing – what do you do? You improvise the best that you can:

‘Right now, the two fellow Marines were assembling a surprise birthday cake for Seb by stacking together prepacked slices of pound cake, peanut butter cookies, Rice Krispies treats, jams and dessert bars, all saved from their military rations. Although FOB Day had a pretty good cook, birthday cakes were not part of the Marines’ menu. It’s been Dunn’s idea to fashion this MRE-sourced cake.
“After all, one turns 21 but once in his life,” he said.’

Silent Heroes

Imagine those U.S. Marines, away from their homes for three, six months at a time, having little means of communications with the family left behind, saving their rations to put together a single serving of birthday cake. Because it is their mate’s birthday and they want to celebrate it, to bring some home-feel to the cruelty of war. Create an oasis of serenity in the midst of the battlefield.
You can celebrate this birthday alongside the U’S. Marines fighting in Silent Heroes. They would surely appreciate your presence, as it will bring that home-feeling to a war-torn, sun-blazed piece of land that no one knows, anymore, why they still fight over.

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices. family

Are you ready to delve into the secrets revealed in Silent Heroes, involving the U.S. Marines, their bravery and sacrifices?

Silent Heroes. secrets revealed U.S. MarinesAmazon 5 Stars Review:
“Silent Heroes will prompt you to pause and think several times. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing, long-term struggles these people have endured under the Taliban and how lucky many of us are to live our lives as we want. You will feel both pride and sadness as you read about the Marines and the experiences of their teams. But you will also feel joy and hope about the sacrifices that are made for us each day.  Silent Heroes is an incredible novel that I highly recommend. Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.”

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices
Follow this blog:
error

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Women’s Rights under Taliban

Women killed for teaching girls to read - inconceivable in the 21st century

Sometimes, a truth so inconceivable in its existence during the 21st century, like women’s rights under Taliban, is overlooked by mass-media and only revealed in a book: Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for.

My dream was to write a fictional story true to the lives of those caught in the War in Afghanistan: civilians and soldiers, Afghan populace and the Taliban. Reveal secrets, if need be. Thus, Silent Heroes was born.

silent heroes women's rights Taliban
Secrets revealed in Silent Heroes: women’s rights Taliban rule

Taliban, the spiritual weapon of the Afghan Nation

Afghanistan is a country nick-named as “unconquerable” and “the graveyard of empires”. It was a valuable location along the Silk Road and throughout centuries the Afghan land was used as a pawn between various dynasties and empires: of Alexander the Great, Muslim Arabs, the Mongols, the British quite a few times, then the Soviet Union. The Mujahedeen forces successfully opposed the Soviet troops through guerrilla tactics and in 1996 the Taliban government finally established its totalitarian Islamic State, The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Taliban ruled through terror and extremism and it could only be removed from power by the use of armed forces by the United States armed forces and their allies.

Women executed by Taliban for teaching girls to read – inconceivable in the 21st century

‘Afghan women live in constant fear and nine out of then are victims of domestic abuse. Warlords still thrive and power is gained through violence and intimidation and, in some parts of Afghanistan, the Taliban is still seen as a protector of the populace. A populace who has one too any empires’ gravestones in their backyard. As soon as your military forces will withdraw from Afghanistan, and one day they will, this country will revert to the lawless, conflict-ridden landscape that it was in the eighties, after the Soviet occupation, and the U.S. Nation-Building will join the other empires’ tombstones.’

Silent Heroes
silent heroes women's rights Taliban

But the Taliban still thrives, partially because the Afghan populace has seen one too many empires taking over their land under the pretense of protection and progress – only to take advantage of their resources, mainly poppy production, and then leave. So they lost faith in any foreign power, no matter the promises it made.

‘The Taliban has executed Afghans who dared vote in the Presidential elections of 2004. People in my village were scared that they won’t stay alive for much longer if they went to vote because the Talibans were searching everyone’s voter registration cards.’

Silent Heroes

Yet Afghanistan had known times of peace, prosperous times, when education boomed and women could study at university taking subjects that were considered extravagant, such as communism, feminism, and capitalism, taught by foreign-educated scholars.
That was once upon a time. Now, the extremist Taliban take advantage of the village men away at war and hold public executions, killing any woman who dares teach young girls to read using only an old, tattered book, hidden in her tiny kitchen.

It is all part of the unknown, harsh reality of the 21st century. Taliban executes women who dare teach young girls to read under the false pretext of breaking a law of the Islamic Religion.

As an authoress, I am the resultant force of the books I read. As a woman, I am the resultant force of the women who influenced my life – my mother, my grandmothers, my daughter, my girl friends, my female role models. As a human being, I am one of the forces shaping my children’s future; albeit a tiny one, I can point forward and upwards.
Scientia potetia est.

The simplest way to enjoy coffee? Pair it with an interesting book.
The simplest way to enjoy coffee? Pair it with an interesting book.

Amazon Review: “Oh, how I loved and admired Emma Dil and her brother Ratik. Their bravery tugged my heartstring and reminded me that for some children a world of conflict is the norm. The actions of the resilient villagers remained with me long after I turned the last page.
An atmospheric novel that oozes tension, sadness and a little glimmer of hope for humanity.”

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

After the mysterious underground fortress, the lacunae in the military chain of command and a diabolic secret lair, there is one more secret to be revealed in this series of 5 Secrets in Silent Heroes.
Have I saved the best for last?
Subscribe to my blog and never miss a post.

silent heroes women’s rights Taliban silent heroes women’s rights Taliban
Follow this blog:
error

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Military Chain of Command

Political secrets revealed in Silent Heroes

Books that reveal stories shared in a whisper, confidential political decisions with a major global impact, or secrets in the military chain of command always excite me. As a reader, I tend to pick them from the shelf; as a writer, I create them. My first novel including such hush-hushed military secrecy is Silent Heroes.

The rules of engagement and why they are a hush-hushed secret

5 serets hidden in Silent Heroes, secrets-military-chain-command
Silent Heroes: secrets in the military chain of command

Few civilians are aware of what a chain in command entails in a war situation. While researching various details of the War in Afghanistan, from its history to the various political fractions involved, from the origins of nation-building to real-life scenarios, I learned about the rules of engagement. These are “the internal rules or directives among military forces that define the circumstances, conditions, degree, and manner in which the use of force, or actions which might be construed as provocative, may be applied” (Wikipedia).

The War in Afghanistan enters its 18th year. Those who were born when it started can now legally fight in it, as soldiers. During these near two decades, just as the means of fighting a war have changed, so have the rule of engagement.

Did you know that what sets aside a Taliban soldier from an Afghan civilian is only the weapon a Taliban carries? Once he sets the weapon down he instantly becomes a civilian and no allied soldier can shoot him, such are the rules of engagement nowadays.

The secret holes of the military chain of command

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

The second piece of secret information I discovered was the hols in the military chain of command that has to be followed in certain war situations.

As collateral damage is a big concern for U.S. Military and U.S. politicians (and with understandable reasons). For this reason, if Taliban fighters shoot from mosques, ignoring their holy ground symbolism, the U.S. soldiers and their allies have to pass an entire chain in command, ask for permission to shoot back and even wait for clearance before they can defend themselves and answer to fire with fire.

‘Marcos remembered the time a huge wave caught him by surprise and it took him with, rolling him over and over until he felt each bone in his body crushed while the roaring of an express train resonated through his ears. Then all was dead quiet. When he opened his eyes he was lying down at the feet of a minaret. He was sure he’d seen a Taliban fighter at its top, yet he knew he can’t just open fire; he had to call up the chain of command and request authorization to fire back, since that was a mosque. The Taliban fighter was looking down at him laughing, and Marcos couldn’t do anything about it, he had to wait for the chain of command to clear him. He knew he will probably become another casualty while lying there, waiting for permission to shoot, so he tried to get up and run for cover. But he couldn’t, his shoulders were glued to the ground and the forest was growing all around him while he was still waiting for clearance to shoot.’

Silent Heroes (Quote on secrets of the military chain of command)

Waiting for clearance from the chain of command, no matter how it endangers the life of a U.S. or allied soldier, is the real-life situation of the War in Afghanistan, yet how many of us are aware of these secret holes in the military chain of command?

In Silent Heroes I piled such real-life situations on top of my U.S. Marines and their British allies too. They will have to improvise to save their skin. How? And will they make it out unharmed?

News update

Lately, the US involvement in Afghanistan made the news’ headlines.
First was the publishing of the Afghanistan Papers, both “a revelation and a confirmation” – for “many who served in the Afghanistan war” revealing “years of deception by senior U.S. officials, who assured the public that progress was being made — when it wasn’t.”
I admit, I was not surprised by this as, during my research, I came across such information – and revealed it in my book, Silent Heroes.

‘Our friends didn’t have to die’ (said a US soldier who served in Helmans province in 2010)

as quoted by The Washington Post

Then there was an opinion piece in The Guardian, The Afghanistan war is more than a $1 trillion mistake, by Ben Armbruster, underlining what the Afghanistan Papers already revealed, that “a lot of people were killed, injured and subject to years, if not lifetimes, of psychological trauma and financial hardship because a bunch of men – yes, mostly men – in Washington didn’t want to admit publicly what they knew privately all along.”

A tragic aspect of the war in Afghanistan, emotionally and respectfully detailed in Silent Heroes.

And then there was the opinion piece in Al Jazeera, The Afghan war: A failure made in the USA written by Ahsan I Butt, Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University: “the US-made mess in Afghanistan has much to do with its failed policies and shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude.”
This is incredible to read, as it is exactly the result of my research on the war in Afghanistan, and you can read all about it in my contemporary fiction book Silent Heroes.

Silent HeroesSilent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for

Amazon Reviews:

Have you read yet 5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. A Mysterious Underground Fortress? And there are three more secrets to be revealed. You can subscribe to my blog and never miss a post.

secrets-military-chain-command secrets-military-chain-command
Follow this blog:
error

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. A Mysterious Underground Fortress

5 secrets hidden silent heroes - Qala-e-Bost fortress

I love books with secrets. Especially enigmatic locations kept hidden from the general public. While researching for my latest contemporary novel Silent Heroes, I uncovered five secrets and revealed them: one mysterious fortress buried underground, one hush-hushed by politicians, one too dangerous to be researched and shared with the world, one inconceivable in the 21st century, and one heartbreaking in its humanity.

Qala-e-Bost, Afghanistan’s secret fortress now featured in Silent Heroes

Unbeknown to many, near Lashkar Gah, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, rises the great fortress of Qala-e-Bost, an 11th-century castle that overlooks the life-giving Afghan River of Helmand. This is the mysterious fortress whose secrets are ready to bury the Silent Heroes. But will they give in?

Qala-e-Bost fortress, Afghanistan, a mysterious location in Silent Heroes

“The stones of Qala-e-Boost have seen wars as well as the joys of celebrations. They have known wealth and ruin. Early hymns of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the oldest religions in the world, were once performed here. One of them was the Nowruz, the famous ceremony dedicated to the Sun and marking the Iranian New Year and the Spring Equinox. Along the years Bost fortress has been used as a guard post for the traditional caravan trade from Iran to India. The Mongols, then the Persians have been here too; the Arabs, even the Russians. Leaders and warriors came here as attested by the terracotta figurines, the inscribed seals, and the many coins discovered here, and then they left.
Still, Bost remained.”

Silent Heroes
Qala-e-Bost fortress secrets andquote from Silent Heroes

Qala-e-Bost, a mysterious fortress hidden underground

The fascinating and less known detail about Qala-e-Bost fortress is that its five levels are underground and few visual images are available, let alone descriptions of its deep buried secret chambers: “the heart of the fortress, its well, going five levels underground. The well is a maze of corridors, stairs, secret rooms, and side entrances” (Silent Heroes).

So I threw my soldiers in a fight in the dark belly of Qala-e-Bost fortress. The idea that there are concealed, less-known meanings behind things in plain sight always fires my imagination.

Who dares enter the belly of the beast?

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for Patricia FurstenbergSilent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for is a work of contemporary fiction inspired by the War in Afghanistan.

Amazon 5 Stars Review:
It is clear that the author did an amazing amount of research for this book. Over the last few years I have read many, many book written by our soldiers. All of these books were based on each soldier’s experiences. The author of “Silent Heroes” has captured the experiences of our military men and women. I highly recommend this book and I plan to read more book by this author.

Silent Heroes

You can BUY Silent Heroes now from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

Four more mysteries will be revealed soon. Subscribe to my newsletter and never miss a post.

Follow this blog:
error