I race down the winding back alleys of Kabul, hoping to lose the Tajik who is chasing me. The heat of mid-day beats down on me, sweat pouring down my face and drenching my clothes. Panting I turn the corner at top speed, and face a dead end. Swearing I look for a way up, maybe I can loose him on the rooftops. I leap up onto a pile of boxes and grab a clothes line that stretches between the buildings. You can always count on there being clothes lines for an escape, they are all over the place and in every alley way. Every street urchin knows that if you ever need a quick escape get to the roofs. So I swing myself up onto the rooftops and start running. I don't bother to look back, I know that he is still following me. The tin and shackled roofs of the city are hot, and if you're not careful they will burn your feet, no matter how calloused they are. I grew up running these streets, every twist and turn, back alley and bazar I know by heart. This place has always been teeming with people, coming in and out through the Khyber Pass in the mountains. Kabul is a place where many merchants and caravans pass through. Many wars have been fought for my city, but we are strong and survive, no matter how many invaders come.
The clatter of untrained feet sound behind me, I look over my shoulder. He is gaining on me, I jump from one roof to another picking up my speed. I dodge potted plants and small gardens respecting others property. Most people have their gardens on the roof tops here and people will ignore you as long as you leave them alone; else wise they will call the Abu Dhabi. I hear the shattering of a pot, great, I hope no one heard that. I keep running but, the heat is pounding down on me and I am beginning to tire. I will have to face him soon, I search for a good spot and dash off in that direction. I check my knives, one on each arm, one on my back, and one up my skirt. The loose cotton of my shirt and pants hiding them from sight. I loosen the strings, and let my knife slip into my hands. It was a beauty, given to me by a merchant who I helped, by carry his merchandise and keeping away other urchins. He had promised me a job when I got older, but he died in the cross fire of the last war. He gave these to me the last time he had been here. They are beautiful knives, made from some new metal. They have perfect balance and a blade that stays sharp, no sharpening it every night. They are the envy of all the street urchins, but I protect them well, they are all I have.
I finally reach my destination, a flat roof top that probably belongs to a rich mans shop. I turn to face my opponent and find that he is ready. The Hindu Kush mountains stand tall and proud behind the mans back. It is those mountains and the Kabul River that have helped keep us safe over the years. I ready myself for my trailers attack, the man must be stupid for he lunges straight away. Nimbly I dodge, and strike at his arm, I make contact. He lets out a yelp, I spit, stupid Tajik. A sly grin spreads across my thin face, loose stands of hair fall across my eyes. We circle each other and he lunges, I block, but our blades lock. He throws his body weight against my small wire frame. My muscles strain against the pressure. If I don't get him off soon I will collapse, then who knows what will happen. Pictures of friends that have been beaten and killed flash through my mind. No I will not let that be me, then an idea comes to my frantic mind. Slowly I let him take more ground making him think that he is winning. Then I shift all my weight to one foot and push with all my might and throw him to the side. I lash out catching his cheek, it will leave a scar, I spit in his face. Serves him right a Tajik taking on a Pashtun, we may be fewer in numbers but we are still strong. I have counted my eggs too soon though, and I see his blade coming for me out of the corner of my eye. I turn to block, but as our blades meet mine shatters, pieces of metal fly everywhere. I put my hand up to protect my eyes, a piece comes in contact with my chin lodging itself there. My temper flares and as my opponent is distracted by this event I lash out, slashing open his abdomen. He cries out in pain and crumples to the ground. Pulling out the pieces of shrapnel from my skin I turn and run, broken and bloodied knife still in hand.