I Don’t Even Know His Name

By Nick Alexander

Authors note- This piece is about a young Afghan soldier struck in the chest plate of his body armour  by a directional IED in late 2013. We crossed paths in a US Forward Surgical Team  facility about one week prior to the end of my deployment. 

He wakes; 

kisses his wife,  

dresses then prays. 

He walks the short distance to his mates to get a lift to work. 

I know him, but I don’t know his name. 

He is greeted by friends; 

they laugh, 

complain about their kids. 

Then they dress in uniform and step out into the beige streets. 

I know them, but I don’t know their names. 

He rounds the corner; 

boom, 

ringing. 

He’s on the ground intact, conscious but dizzy and finding it difficult to breathe. I know this, but I don’t know its name. 

He arrives in our hospital; 

assessed, 

scanned. 

To the eye he is lucky, inside he is drowning, slowly his lungs inflame. I see him, but I don’t check his name. 

He’s not for us; 

MEDROE, 

transfer to host nation facility. 

Its tearing at me as their skills are insufficient, he needs critical care. He’s listening, but I don’t fight for his name. 

I wake; 

sweating, 

heart racing. 

He’s visited me again, at home, beside my wife, down the hall from my kids. He knows me, but I don’t even know his name.

Nick Alexander is a current serving member of the Royal Australian Army Medical  Corps. He deployed with a small Australian health element to Afghanistan in 2013.

 

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