A Premonition; Recollected

By Jamil Jan Kochai

Artwork by Sana Ahmad

October 18th 2020

Many years later, Mor will think back to her vision of two gunmen, whom she will not remember murdered her brothers, and she will see the gunmen in the night, in the snow, huddled at the base of a mulberry tree, at the end of a pathway, waiting for two orbs of light, orbs like spirits, like twin souls, floating through dark and snow, falling snow, and she will see the cold mist of their breaths, the frost collecting at the tips of the strands of their black beards, and she will see their chapped lips, their gentle eyes watering, and for a moment or two she will wonder why the gunmen in her vision won’t go home and huddle in the warmth of an old blanket sewn, perhaps, by a long-forgotten mother, just a girl when she married, a child, kidnapped and beaten and forced into the bedroom of her husband, made to conceive two sons she could never wholly love, before dying in the thousandth bombing of a benevolent American invasion, her boys left behind to be raised by a war that will inevitably lead them to the mouth of an alley in the heart of Logar, and Mor will see their eyes seeing the headlights of her brothers’ Corolla tumbling down upon clay and ice and shadow, and she will see the gunmen step out from under the cover of ancient branches into snowfall, into halos of light obscuring the faces of innocent men destined to be martyred for crimes they could never imagine, and she will see the tips of their fingers, already bitten by frost, inch toward the warmth of the trigger.

          They must have been so cold, she will think to herself, having forgotten all else.


Jamil Jan Kochai is the author of 99 Nights in Logar (Viking, 2019), a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He was born in an Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, but he originally hails from Logar, Afghanistan. His short stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Ploughshares, and The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018. Currently, he is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Sana Ahmad is a graphic designer and artist residing in Karachi, Pakistan.  She majored in Communication Studies and Design and has been working on various projects in both fields for the past two years. Her work has been displayed internationally at Sharjah Art Foundation for Focal Point 2019 and for Art Book Depot 2019 in Jaipur by Farside Collective, as well as various local group exhibitions throughout the country.