After the fall of the Soviet Union, all of the countries that were part of the Soviet Union broke out into civil war. Tajikistan was no exception. The civil war ended in 1996, 13 years ago, and the wounds are still healing. Half of the population of Tajikistan is under the age of 18 and it is a generation of people who were not too young to remember the horrors of that time
Today a Tajik woman, who is about 21 years old, told me about her experience in the civil war here in Dushanbe. She said that she and her family lived on the outskirts of town and was in the line of fire between the Soviet implemented government trying to keep control and the opposition. She said that there was machine gun fire every day and every night and no one in Dushanbe slept for about 2 years. The machine gun fire was constant and they were firing machine guns and bazookas at each other over civilian houses in the hills just on the outskirts of Dushanbe. This woman told me that her father was a doctor at the time and her mother was a teacher. Her father was warned in advance that there would be a war and he was advised to take all his money out of the bank because he wouldn't be able to access it. He did as he was told and spent the money on buying about two years worth of food and supplies and kept them in the garage. He bought things such as flour, rice, and water. In the end, his decision making paid off because the country DID erupt into civil war and this woman and her family stayed in their house for a year and only left a few times. She said that her father owned a house on the other side of Dushanbe, near where the Soviet army was staying, and they would sometimes move to that house to stay for awhile and then go back to their house in the hills when they thought the fighting might have stopped. It turned out that the fighting went on and on and when they would hear the machine gun fire and see the bazookas coming out they would go back to the house on the other side of Dushanbe. She said most education stopped for about a year because there was no heat or fires in the schools and the children didn't have shoes or coats to wear. She was lucky that her parents were well educated and she and her siblings were home schooled by her mother. She said that her family didn't suffer nearly as much as most other people in Dushanbe and the rest of Tajikistan.
She told a story of a woman who had been in a small, isolated village in the south of the country. This woman was running to get away from the village that was under fire and it was freezing cold and she didn't have shoes on. This woman ran and ran for miles and when she got a village where she could be safe, she looked down and her feet were nothing but red nubs. It was so cold and she didn't have shoes and she was literally running for her life that she didn't feel the pain of her feet being eaten away.
I know this is only the beginning of these types of stories. In a few days I'll be traveling to Garm where the "losers" of the war are and it will be interesting to hear their side of the story.