Note: This was originally written on April 15 (Tax Day!) and I forgot to hit “publish.” I still think the story of Gul and Abdul is worth telling.
With all the excitement with the arrival of the First Dog, the brazen defiance of the Somali pirates, and the ongoing financial crisis, it’s easy to miss things when reading the news. Sure, we hear about child abductions, court cases, and what’s going on with the military at home and abroad. Other stories are important because they’re absurd or unique or strike close to home, but this one is tragic.
It would have been easy for me to miss the headline: “Afghan Taliban Kill Young Couple for Trying to Elope.” But I didn’t; I clicked on it and realized the story of these two young lovers needed to be retold.
I don’t know how 19 year-old Gul Pecha and 21 year-old Abdul Aziz first met. Gul, I imagine, enchanted Abdul with her feminine charms. Or perhaps Abdul was a man that Gul knew her whole life. Of course, living in the untamed areas of southwestern Afghanistan, which is still ruled by the Taliban, was risky. Women are still forced to wear head coverings here and Muslim clerics rule with a legalistic iron first! Somehow in all the chaos around them, Gul and Abdul found one another, fell in love, and decided to journey together to Iran to be married. Isn’t that romantic?
Unfortunately, their families didn’t see it that way. Villagers from their hometown of Nimroz brought the pair back. The couple was either handed over to the Taliban by their neighbors or seized by a militant group. Gul and Abdul were then gunned down by AK-47’s by a Taliban Firing Squad–all for trying to elope.
To say the couple was in love is speculation on my part, but why on earth would two people risk their lives to elope if that wasn’t the case? Perhaps Gul was pregnant. Maybe Gul was promised to another man or Addul was to marry another woman. Whatever the reason, they wanted to get the heck out of Nimroz and they wanted to get married. Sadly, Gul and Abdul were denied both.
Here in the United States you can go to Las Vegas to get married in a drive-through by Elvis and you can get divorced almost as easily. If only Gul and Abdul were in the U.S., they could have had a wedding–a real wedding–not a dash through the desert. They knew the risk; they had to. Yet they went forward with their plan, which ended up costing them their lives.
Happily ever after isn’t supposed to end in gunfire. But this isn’t a fairy tale romance; it’s the real plight of a couple who lived and died in the lawless borders of Afghanistan–executed for trying to get married!