R&R Book Tours Proudly Presents: The Finest Supermarket in Kabul, a fascinating novella inspired by true events! Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this wonderful opportunity.😊
The Finest Supermarket in Kabul
Publication Date: Oct. 30th, 2017
Genre: Novella/ Terrorism/ Inspired by True Events
Kabul, Afghanistan January 28, 2011.
Merza, a freshly minted Parliamentarian receives ominous threats after he wins his seat. Alec, an American journalist, flies from Kandahar without his editor’s permission to chronicle daily life in the capital. Elyssa, a Canadian human rights lawyer in Kabul to train female magistrates, is distracted by unwanted attention from a male justice. On this grey, wintry Friday, all three are embroiled in a dramatic and savage bombing. Inspired by true events and places, The Finest Supermarket in Kabul follows Merza, Alec and Elyssa as their idealistic and visionary hopes for Afghanistan are deeply challenged in the aftermath.
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Last September, I was elected to the Wolesi Jirga in Afghanistan’s National Assembly. My parents had protested my running, and they regularly spoke of their wayward son to neighbours and friends, sometimes even in my presence. By now, their attitude has subsided into a stinging disapproval and regret which pervades our house as if an undesirable visitor has settled in to stay. As for me, I’ve borne a lot to run for this seat and am pleased with my win. During the lead up to the election, I’d organized a few public events to encourage voters but then began to hear with sickening frequency about threats made to candidates, campaigners and election workers alike. Voters were told to stay away from polling stations. In small villages, the warnings were direct and ominous, communicated via written letters posted on mosque doors and other public buildings. In Kabul, the intimidation came over the radio, distant and impersonal. This, I decided, I could live with; I continued my campaign with no immediate repercussions.
So when the telephone call came three weeks ago, I was caught off guard. We warn you today, on behalf of Servants of Islam, to stop working for the infidel. If you continue, you will be regarded as the enemy of Islam and will be killed. The caller hung up before I could. I hadn’t said a word. My hands were shaking; my breath was short. My insides turned over more than once as I stood paralyzed beside the phone; my eyes glazed over, staring at the living room wall. Rattled and anxious, I didn’t tell anyone – not my sister, not my parents, not even my friends. My actions could not, should not, affect anyone else, I thought.
I flinch when the policeman knocks heavily on my window. He stands beside a large blue sign that proclaims Ring of Steel with Police below in white lettering. An AK-47 is casually resting along his right arm, an Afghan flag patch on his shoulder. The classy silver watch on his left wrist looks out of place. I put the driver’s window down and turn up the heat.
“Assalaam alaikum. Sir, I need to see your ID. Where are you going today?” The officer is polite but firm as he scrutinizes the back seat. The badge clipped to his left front pocket dangles by my face.
“Going to buy some firewood. I’ve just come from Zuhr prayers at the Id Gah Mosque,” I say, reasoning that if I mention prayers it will go quicker.
I hand over my ID, uncertain what I will do if he asks for money. Five years ago, there would not have been any concern about a potential bribe, as police officers were almost non-existent. When using government services, I will occasionally give small amounts of money if I can’t seen any other way to get ahead, a practice my father says is just “doing business.” But I truly resent the culture of corruption that policemen and other government officials have become a part of.
He stares at the photo, at me, and then back at the photo. A sense of familiarity creeps in but my anxiousness doesn’t let me focus on it. He turns my ID over in a slow, pensive movement, the card in his palm, picture side down.
“For your information, I’m a parliamentarian. I was elected to the Wolesi Jirga last year. We’re aiming to decrease corruption,” I say defiantly, trying to cut off all ideas of a bribe.
Suddenly, he shifts the AK-47 into his hand and points it at the rear of my car. “I need to see the trunk.” I glimpse his index finger on the trigger.
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About the Author
Ele Pawelski has lived in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Bosnia, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Kosovo. She has climbed in the Himalayas, walked the Camino and hiked in Newfoundland. Now living in urban Toronto with her husband, she’s always planning for her next travel adventure. Her stories have appeared in magazines, journals and newspapers. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul is her first novella.
3 print copies of The Finest Supermarket in Kabul and 5 $20 Amazon GCs (North America Only)
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