1- Ruins of a city in Afghanistan – Day
Afghan children are collecting waste paper and empty mineral water bottles in garbage-loaded wastelands and once in a while beg for money from passers-by. Among them a young brother and sister are also filling up their bags with waste paper. Amidst the waste papers they find a partially burnt book. The little brother pages through the book and once his curiosity is satisfied he puts it in his bag.
Boy: (to his sister)Taliban used to burn foreign books here. Also the films, look.
And he takes out a half burnt roll of a film and holds it towards light and looks at it. His little sister standing a bit farther looks anxious.
Girl: (to her brother) let’s go, they won’t let us in if we are late. It’s five o’clock now.
Boy: Take a look, see how beautiful it is.
The little girl comes forward and tries to figure out the scene in the semi burnt film against the sun. At first it seems that a vague noise comes out of the picture. Then the sound becomes clearer and the little girl and the boy realize something is happening around them. They look around. Children are running in all directions as though searching for a lost object.
Some kid: No he ran this way.
Some run in another direction. The little boy and the girl put the burnt film in the bag, run after the kids and disappear in the dust raised by their running. First it is not clear what they are after but later it becomes known that they are chasing a fluffy little puppy. The little dog, frightened, runs away from the kids from one ruin to another. The children throw rocks and garbage at him but fail to catch him. Finally the little dog is stuck in a ruined room and one of the boys blocks the way with a broken door to stop him from escaping. Now the little puppy, stuck in the room barks and tries to find an escape way. In the dog’s eye the kids seem to look down from the sky down the well where he is in, throwing rocks and garbage, each making him groan or howl with pain.
One of the kids: He is a foreign dog, don’t kill him. He is precious.
Another kid: He belongs to the Americans. I saw the owner myself. When America attacked he killed Zaher’s uncle.
One of the kids: (running excitedly upon hearing the words) Come Zaher the dog of the American who killed your uncle is caught. Where are you Zaher?
It’s that American’s dog who killed your uncle.
Another kid: (throws a rock at the dog and it howls) American dogs are big. This belongs to the mother fucking British. After the September 11th attack I saw a hundred of these dogs with them. They let these dogs in people’s homes and they barked whenever a Talib was around and the British then blew up the house.
Girl: Let’s go it’s late. They won’t let us in.
The little boy and the girl who were so far peaking through a hole from higher up, now change their position and come behind the closed door and look at the dog through the hole. More children’s noise is heard as they are nearing the site.
A Boy: (stops another boy from throwing rocks) Don’t throw rocks you stupid. This is the Russians’ dog. See how hairy it is. It’s from Siberia.
Another Boy: (in defense of the offended boy attacks the newcomer, grabs him by the collar and both tumble on the ground) You are the stupid one, the Russians left 9 years ago. This puppy is at the most a year old.
Some other boy : (separates them) You are both idiots. The Russians left 9 years ago but their spies are still here. This dog here, is a Russian spy. Don’t you see how he sniffs everywhere? These dogs look for uranium.
(He throws a rock at him and the dog barks) You idiots instead of killing each other, kill this dog. The same Russians killed my mujahed father.
And he throws a bunch of stones at the dog. The dog howls.
Another group of kids arrive. Zaher is among them.
Zaher: Don’t kill him, burn him. I’ll burn this bitch. The Americans burned our house. The same dogs sniffed in our house and found my uncle.
Zaher’s friends empty their bags of waste paper and used plastic bottles and each start making torches with sticks poked in the bottles or wrapped with paper and cloth. With the first strike at the match Zaher’s torch lights up and others light theirs with Zaher’s. Zaher throws his torch in the room. The little girl screams.
Girl: (to her brother) Let’s go I’m frightened.
Boy: (to his sister) Leave and I’ll come later.
Suddenly the little boy throws his bag down, opens the door and in between the downward flying torches rushes in, grabs the dog, runs away and screams.
Boy: Don’t throw fire. This dog belongs to an NGO who aids poor families with bread and cooking oil.
From the little girl’s view the boys run after her brother and the little dog holding their torches.
One of the boys: NGOs are a lie. They don’t help us. They spend all the money to buy offices and cars for themselves. All foreign NGOs are spies. They’ve come here to see what we do.
The little girl carries her brother’s left-behind garbage bag on her shoulder with her own and starts leaving. She moves with difficulty but still gets tempted to collect garbage thrown out of the other kids’ bags. In the distance the kids holding torches run after the boy and the little dog in the midst of raising dust.
2- In front of the prison – Night
The little girl is waiting in front of prison door. Her brother arrives in a hurry holding the dog and he pounds on the prison door.
Girl: I knocked, they didn’t let me in.
Boy: (Knocks again) Open the door.
Guard: (his eyes showing through a small hatch he opens) Visiting hours are over, come back tomorrow.
Boy: Officer we are not visitors. We are prisoners.
Guard: What are you doing outside then?
Boy: We are night prisoners. Guard Atef knows that, Sir.
Hatch drops and the guard leaves. The kids wait a few moments for the hatch to reopen. The girl looks at the dog. One of his eyes is wounded.
Girl: What happened to his eye?
Boy: They hit it with a rock.
Hatch opens up and this time the Guard named Atef, looks out.
Boy: Hello officer Atef, open the door let us in.
Atef: I told you I wouldn’t let you in past dusk.
Boy: It’s the dog’s fault. The kids wanted to kill him. I picked him up and ran away. That’s why we are late. Now please open the door and let us in.
Atef: Make it the last time you are late. Next time I won’t let you into the prison. (opens the entrance door) Throw that filthy pup away.
Boy: They’ll kill the poor thing outside.
Atef: Here is a prison not a doghouse.
Girl: We’ll take him to our own cell.
Atef: (looks at the dog) What happened to his eye?
Boy: They wanted to burn him. I stopped them so they threw rocks at him.
Atef: Come in. (the kids enter) Empty your bags.
The kids empty their bags. They are filled with waste paper, plastic bottles and partially burnt books and films. Atef curiously watches the books and films. The other guards makes a physical inspection of the boy.
Atef: (shows the burnt film to another soldier) Look what it is. Is it Indian dance?
Soldier: (looking at them) No it’s a Russian movie. A man and a woman were kissing each other. The man is burnt the woman is left.
Atef: Do you have anything else with you, kids?
Atef: Then tuck that dog into your bag and don’t let any one see you taking a dog in.
The kids throw the dog in the bag. The dog barks. Atef covers the kids’ eyes with an eye band and asks the other guard to take them to their cell. The guard walks in the front and the kids with covered eyes, carrying bags on the shoulder follow him. The dog moves in the bag and keeps barking.
3- The kids’ mother’s cell – Night
The kids are in their mother’s cell. It is clear now that these kids have no one besides their imprisoned mother so they come and stay with her at nights and bring collected paper and plastics to make fires for heating the cell. A holed tin can is the fireplace that slowly burns the waste materials in it. A kettle of warm water is on the can and the dirty little dog who as the mother says stinks of wandering around in the streets gets washed in a tub by the mother and the kids. When the dog gets wet, it is becomes evident that he is even smaller than what he seemed. When the washing is over the dog starts to shake and bounce to dry himself up and irritably bites the scarves of the mother and daughter who are using them as towels to dry him.
Mother sleeps, extends her arms and hugs each child on her side and they pull the cover over. The dog is still in a corner shaking itself to dry up.
Mother: Go visit your father tomorrow in the men’s prison. Tell him you sleep with me in the prison because you are so lonely. Tell him your mother is not sinful. Since he left and didn’t show up for three years she thought he was killed that’s why she remarried. Tell him that if I didn’t get married you wouldn’t have anyone to take care of you. Tell him now that your mother’s second husband has been killed if he gets to live, he should forgive me and live with us. Tell him if they kill you…
No don’t say that. Say if he doesn’t waive his complaint of your mother they will kill her or if she stays in prison he will be alone.
The dog licks the kids’ feet. The prison guard woman comes forward and announces the prison’s quiet time and that they must be in bed and keep silent. The little boy gets up and lays the dog next to himself and covers him with the blanket.
A baby’s non-stop crying disturbs the prison silence. The guard walking past the cells reaches the baby’s cell.
Guard woman: (to baby’s mother) Why don’t you quiet him down? It is prison silence time now.
Baby’s mother: Officer he is sick I have to take him to the doctor
Guard woman: If he needed a doctor, why didn’t you leave him with your mother?
Baby’s mother: Officer, my mother has no milk and this cell is cold. He has a cold.
Baby continues to cry and the guard keeps walking. Mother gets up and makes a fire in a tin bowl with waste paper and plastics and hands it to the guard to take to the baby’s cell. The guard takes the fire and Mother sleeps. Now the dog stands in front of the cell bars barking at the walking guard woman. The guard for a moment looks at the dog.
4- Women’s prison courtyard – Day
Women prisoners line up to receive breakfast shares. A little girl with an empty bowl stands in line. It is the little girl’s turn.
Guard Woman: You don’t have a share. Eat from your mother’s.
The girl leaves the line and her mother receives her breakfast of a piece of bread and tea and goes to the cell with her daughter. In the yard women are standing in line and the baby’s mother is breastfeeding the infant. She thanks Mother for the fire last night.
Mother: Is your verdict passed?
Baby’s mother: Not yet. The judge said to be thankful that the Taliban regime is changed, otherwise I would have been stoned. I asked about my situation and he said the new punitive laws have not been written so I have to stay in prison for now until the new government is securely established to write the new punitive laws. I asked him how were I supposed to know my husband was not dead. In the past 20 years 7 million people have become refugees and 2 million have died and I waited for 4 years thinking my husband was among the 2 million dead so with my mother’s insistence I went and married again. He said why didn’t you think your husband could be among the 7 million refugees?
Mother: What did they do with your second husband?
Baby’s mother: He is in prison. My first husband has said he will kill him if he is freed. I said to the judge: “Please don’t let him out. He promised that if they didn’t kill him they wouldn’t let him out either.
A woman prisoner that was washing clothes now hangs them on the robe between the two women.
5 – Mother’s cell – Day
The kids are eating breakfast with their mother and throw a piece of bread for the dog. The dog smells the bread but doesn’t eat it. The guard woman shows up again.
Woman Guard: Weren’t you supposed to leave the prison in the morning? The prison superintendent will be coming for inspection and if she finds you here she will punish us too. Don’t bring the dog either that we won’t let him in.
The kids pick up their empty bags and the dog and leave the cell. The guard woman covers their eyes again to stop them from seeing the entry and exit route of the prison.
6 – City streets – Day
Girl and the boy come in the streets. The girl has tied the dog to her back with her chador. The same way eastern women carry their babies on the back. Still she has a small bag in her hand and once in a while bends and picks up useful garbage for making fires. The boy is doing the same.
Girl: (to her brother) Didn’t Mom ask us to go visit Dad?
Boy: We can’t go empty handed. Let’s collect paper for him. Why don’t you go collect some money so we can get him a present. We have to buy medicine for his wound too.
The girl starts begging from cars and the boy while watching for her, collects garbage. The girl begs from several cars among them tourists and NGOs. Some of the passengers express emotions for the dog on the girl’s back or point it to each other. One of them even asks in English about the dog’s name and the translator interprets the foreigner’s question.
Girl: Wait let me ask my brother about his name (and goes towards her brother) They are asking what the dog’s name is.
Boy: I don’t know, a pup.
The girl runs after the foreigners’ car to give them an answer but the light has turned green and they have driven away. For a moment the girl sees the garbage collection kids that had run after the dog the day before. She becomes terrified, calls her brother and both flee.
7 – Rosary shop – Day
The kids enter a rosary shop on antique dealers’ street.
Boy: How much is this rosary?
Seller: 5 Afghanis.
Girl: This one is prettier (shows a cobalt-blue rosary)
Boy: How much is this one?
Seller: 10 Afghanis.
Boy: Why is this one more expensive?
Seller: Because the angels count it as double reward for anyone praising God with this one but with the other one only one reward is accounted.
The kids are amazed holding both rosaries against their face looking at them.
Seller: Who do you want this rosary for?
Girl: For our father.
Seller: Does he bid the beads to comfort his nerves or is he a pious man praising God?
Boy: He is a pious man.
Seller: Does he praise God a lot or little?
Boy: He does it a lot, day and night. He is a Talib and in prison now.
Seller: Then take him one of these higher speed rosaries. (He takes out a digital rosary, presses it and it scores) See every time he praises and presses this it automatically scores.
The kids take the digital rosary and press it. The girl is also curious and tampers with the digital rosary.
Boy: How much is it?
Seller: 20 Afghanis.
Boy: No, we’ll take the 5 Afghanis one.
Girl: No let’s take this one.
Finally when the girl holds the blue rosary against her chest and looks in the mirror, thinking it resembles girls’ necklaces, they choose the blue one. The dog on the girl’s back, smells the rosary and licks it.
8 – Pharmacy – Day
The kids enter the pharmacy.
Boy: We want an ointment for a wound.
Pharmacist: What kind of a wound?
Boy: For my father’s bullet wound.
Pharmacist: What part of your father’s body has the bullet wounded?
Boy: His heart.
Pharmacist: So how come he is still alive? Show me where it is wounded?
The boy puts his hand on the right side of his chest and the pharmacist brings a medicine and hands it to them.
9 – In front of men’s prison – Day
The kids are in front of the men’s prison. The door is half open. They enter. A guard blocks them.
Guard: Where are you going?
Boy: To visit our father.
Guard: Who’s your father?
Boy: (says his father’s name)
Guard: What’s his crime?
Boy: He was a Talib.
Guard: Let me see if he’s still here or has been transferred. (He talks on an old phone and makes sure the father is still there) But only one of you can go in.
Boy: This is my sister and that’s our own dog we found.
Guard: Dogs are not allowed at all. One of you can go for now.
Boy: (to his sister) If you go can you repeat mom’s word’s to him?
Boy: Then I’ll go, you wait by the door.
The girl comes out and waits in front of the prison door. The dog barks and the girl unties him from her back. The dog walks a bit further, then he raises his leg and starts peeing. The boy returns with the empty bag.
Girl: Did you tell him Mom’s words? (The boy ponders and starts walking. The girl picks up the dog and leaves too).
10 – Sidewalk – Day
The kids are walking
Girl: Did you repeat Mom’s words?
Boy: Yes I did.
Girl: What did you say?
Boy: Well I said it.
Girl: Did you tell him while crying?
Girl: Was he compassionate?
Girl: He didn’t care?
Girl: So how did he react?
Boy: He said it is better not to have a mother than have a bad mother.
Girl: But our mother is not bad.
Boy: He said: “I went to war for God’s sake but my wife married another man.”
Girl: Well, you should have told him our mother’s husband has been killed.
Boy: He knew he was killed.
Girl: So what did he say?
Boy: He said: “The hell he is been killed. Now if they kill your mother, they both will live in hell together.”
Girl: What does it mean they’ll go to hell?
Boy: It means that they will live in fire and like this dog that the kids wanted to burn, the angels will forever burn them.
Girl: If you had wept Dad would have forgiven mom. You should have asked him for our sake.
Boy: You go and say it again tomorrow because he said in two days the Americans will take them to Guantanamo prison (He doesn’t know the name of the prison and stumbles a few of times.) You must go tomorrow, he wants to see you.
Girl: Why didn’t you ask him to forgive Mom if he loves us?
Boy: He said: “if you want me to love you, you have to go to the mosque and constantly say your prayer.”
11 – Mosque – Day
The kids enter the mosque with their dog. Old men are making their ablutions. The kids start to make their ablution. An old man who is the servant sees them and becomes angry.
Old man: What are you doing here?
Boy: We want to say our prayer.
Old man: Why have you come with a dog? Don’t you know dogs are unclean?
Girl: (sprinkles some water on the dog’s back) I’ll wash him right away. He just peed.
Old man: (even angrier) Don’t you know dog’s filth can not be cleaned with water and if a dog drinks water from a bowl, you have to wash the bowl with soil for 7 times in order to clean it?!
Boy: This dog used to belong to the foreigners. It’s clean. It’s not a stray dog.
Old man: That’s even worse. Filth in filth. Once because it’s a dog twice because it belongs to foreigners. It is infidel and unclean. I mean it’s twice as filthy. Poor me I have to wash the whole mosque with soil for 7 times to clean it.
The men making ablutions avoid any contact with the dog and the old man who seems to be the mosque’s servant, pushes both the kids and the dog out of the mosque.
12 – Street outside the mosque – Day
The kids come out of the mosque. The dog barks at the servant as he pushes them out and runs after the kids. From the mosque’s minaret the sound of a melancholic call to prayer is heard and the kids and the dog seeming so lonely get farther away from the mosque and its minaret in the background.
Girl: If we don’t take the dog and go into the mosque to pray for Mom, will God lower hell’s fire for Mom?
Boy: How should I know?
Girl: Then what should we do so God won’t burn our mother? Mom is not this dog that we can pick up and run away to avoid God from burning her. Besides God is everywhere. There is no escaping Him.
Boy: How do I know?
Suddenly the girl notices the dog’s absence and returns. The dog, exhausted and starved is sitting in the distance and does not follow them. The girl notifies the boy and both go towards he dog and the girl hugs him just like a mother hugging her little baby.
Girl: He’s hungry.
Boy: I am hungry too. I’ll go buy some bread you go buy something for lunch.
The boy goes to the bakery and the girl buys 3 apples from a peddler. They sit in a corner and eat but the dog neither eats bread nor apples and only smells them. The girl bites at the apple and the bread.
Girl: He’ll die if he doesn’t eat.
Boy: (Still pensive and filled with sorrow) what do I know?
13 – In front of women’s prison – Evening
The boy and the girl arrive by the women’s prison door with the dog and knock. A guard opens the hatch. An old woman waits outside moaning and complaining on how to take care of a motherless child.
Kids: Is guard Atef in?
Guard: Wait a moment.
The hatch drops down and goes up another moment and Atef’s eyes appear.
Atef: Hi kids.
Kids: Hello, we are here.
Atef: Sorry the Superintendent has found out and ordered not to let kids in the prison.
Boy: Come on open up, let us in. Your boss isn’t here now.
Atef: No, I’ll get into trouble.
Boy: Come on open up.
Atef: I can’t. I don’t want to get embarrassed.
Girl: So what if you let us in again? Will your prison come short of space?
Atef: Swear it’s not my fault nor is it up to me. I’d even let you live here all your life. The prison is not my mother’s. It belongs to everyone but it has rules otherwise the one million refugees who returned to Kabul wanted to spend the nights here to avoid the cold.
Girl: So what do we do now?
Atef: Go to your relatives.
Boy: They are either killed or have become refugees. Our father is in prison too. Please let us come in.
Girl: For God’s sake let us spend the night with our mom once more.
Atef: I can’t do anything for you and I’ll just be more ashamed if you insist so I have to go, bye.
And he drops the hatch. The kids are desperate. They look at each other and the old lady for a moment and knock again. The dog barks too. The door opens moments later and another guard hands the infant who had cried so hard the previous night to the old woman and leaves.
Old Lady: How am I supposed to feed this poor baby? For God’s sake either let her mother go too or give her the baby.
The guard opens the door again and yells at them to go.
Boy: At least give these papers to our mother so she can make a fire and stay warm.
The guard takes the bag of papers and leaves.
14 – City Ruins – Night
Kids are frightened by the sound of barking dogs in the darkness of the night. The boy makes a fire. The little dog is also frightened and barks non-stop. A man passes by whistling and singing.
Boy: He must be hungry barking so much.
Girl: No, he is frightened like me.
Boy: Well I am scared too but that doesn’t mean I have to bark!
Girl: But you are not a dog.
Boy: So what does a human do if he is scared?
Girl: I don’t know.
Boy: He sings and whistles like that man.
The dog raises his foot and pees. The girl covers her eyes with her hands.
Girl: I am scared.
Boy: Keep covering your eyes; see if you get less frightened.
And he turns his back and starts peeing.
Girl: I have to pee too.
Boy: Well there to the back and pee in the dark.
Girl: But I’m scared.
Boy: Ok so I’ll go there and you pee right here.
Girl: I am scared of being alone.
Boy: Don’t be afraid. I will be right here. I’ll sing so you won’t get scared.
The boy goes further away, whistles and sings and then he returns.
Girl: Let’s get out of here and go somewhere with people around. I am afraid of loneliness.
Boy: Didn’t Mom say she is afraid of loneliness but she fears people more?
If we go to some place and people find out we are alone and have no one they will harm us.
Girl: What if someone shows up here and harms us? There’s no one to help us here.
Boy: Ok if you want to go let’s go but this is the same place you like in the day but now it’s dark and you don’t like it.
They leave and disappear in the darkness.
15 – Some other desolate area – Night
Sound of a small generator mixed with roaring dogs. Light comes out and music is heard from a junk car with no wheels. A TV antenna is on the car and a TV is turned on inside the car. The kids watch the TV in amazement. It is showing three short images:
- Image of Bin Laden
- Image of WTC towers crashing down on September 11.
- Image of Bush behind the podium.
The kids try to see the TV viewer with his back showing. They quietly go around. An old man is sleeping in front of the TV, snoring with his lips moving. The kids slowly change their position to secure themselves behind the car to watch the TV. The sound of music and the reporter’s voice is heard and the light coming off the TV plays on the kids’ faces. Suddenly the little dog barks and wakes the old man. The kids hide behind the car and the boy covers the dog’s mouth but it keeps barking.
Old Man: You bastards, have you come for looting again? Is there anything left to steal
The old man at first looks out the window, then bangs his stick to the sides of the car and then he opens the door and comes out. He finds the kids behind the car and raises his stick. The kids run away and the dog barks at the old man. The old man runs after them holding the stick and threatens them. The kids speed away
16 – Some street in the city- Night
The boy and the girl come with the dog. Peddlers’ carts are parked in a corner and a few lanterns lit up the area.
Girl: I am cold.
Boy: Let’s go in those carts.
Both approach a cart. The boy helps the girl and the dog to go up. Then goes up himself. First he sends the dog in. The dog barks and a boy screams and runs out of the cart hole, scared. Then he turns and looks behind. He looks naughty and wicked. He goes towards the wall and picks up the lantern, comes forward and grabs the boy by the collar.
Naughty Boy: Is this some kind of foul play?
Boy: I didn’t know someone was sleeping here. I was looking for a place to rest.
Naughty Boy: You could have knocked like a proper boy and asked for it.
Girl: We didn’t know you were sleeping in there.
Boy: She was cold
The dog still barks from inside the cart and raises his head once in a while.
Naughty Boy: (directs them to the next cart) Go sleep in that one. (They go inside the other cart and the naughty boy hands them the lantern.) Take this if you are cold.
They take the lantern inside. Now the kids and the dog stick together like a family. A moment later the cart’s lower hatch opens and the naughty boy shows up.
Naughty Boy: If you want to come here tomorrow don’t bring this girl with you. This place is not safe for girls. The other night they kidnapped a girl from her father’s arms. No one knows what happened to her. Her father has been looking for her for two days. (He hands them a lock)
Lock the door from inside.
The boy locks the door from inside. The girl is scared of hearing what had happened to the other girl.
Girl: Let’s leave here, I’m scared.
Boy: I am not coming. Get to sleep. Outside is colder and more frightening.
Suddenly the girl gets frightened. A shadow casts on her face. It belongs to the naughty boy bending through the hole on the bottom of the cart.
Naughty Boy: Where do you come from? Have you broken out of jail or something?
Boy: We used to sleep in jail with our mother. They didn’t let us in tonight.
Naughty Boy: I was in jail too up until a month ago but I broke out. The food was very good and the place was warm but it neither had a cinema nor any recreation.
Boy: Why were you in jail?
Naughty Boy: One night I went into a video club with a friend and took a TV, a VCR and a hundred tapes that we wanted to watch but the police arrested us. My friend is still in jail now but I escaped.
Girl: I wish we were in prison instead of him.
Naughty Boy: Going to jail is a piece of cake. Steal, kill, fight and they will take you to jail. (He seems to doubt) Don’t kill because they will kill you. Stealing is even better than fighting. (Then he looks for a moment for the sound he hears from outside and turns his head back into the cart.) Dimmer the light so no one suspects there’s anyone in here.
And he leaves.
17 – Some Street in the City – Early Morning
The sun rises. Birds sing. Carts are lined up next to each other. A couple of newly woken up old men carry loads around and a street cleaner sweepingly passes by the carts. A moment later a young boy just woken up, looks out the cart. He stretches his arms and yawns to wake up completely. Gradually from the same cart and other carts different children come out. Each carries a bag or calls someone from another cart and leaves but before leaving each one drops a coin on the cart where they have slept in. The naughty boy also wakes up and unlocks the carts and puts the coins in his pocket. He checks inside the carts one by one, collects money and wakes the boy and girl too.
Naughty Boy: Pay the room fare and leave.
Boy: What fare?
Naughty Boy: Room and lantern fare. 1 afghani without the lantern, 2 with it. Ok, I’ll give you a discount since it was your first night. Give me one afghani.
The boy inevitably brings out all the money he has and hands it to the naughty boy. The naughty boy counts it.
Naughty Boy: But this is not even 1 afghani.
Boy: I have no more.
Naughty Boy: Then you are perfect to do robbery. When one has nothing, he steals easier. Tomorrow night you have to pay the rest of tonight’s fare otherwise no room. Don’t bring the girl either. I was so scared that they might kidnap your sister last night that I hardly slept.
The kids start moving. The dog licks the girl’s hand and face.
Girl: I am hungry and so is my dog, He keeps licking me.
Boy: Let’s steal something to get full or get caught so we are taken to our mother.
Girl: I am scared.
Boy: You stay back. I’ll steal and come back.
18 – In front of butchery and streets around – Day
The girl is holding the dog standing in a corner and the boy keeps passing back and forth by the butchery that has hung mutton. A couple of customers and a woman with burka come in and the butcher gets busy selling meat to them. In a butcher’s moment of neglect the boy in a split second takes a leg of lamb and runs but the butcher does not notice. The girl also starts running after the boy and they disappear.
19 – In the ruins – Day
The boy holds the flesh in front of the dog. The dog smells it but doesn’t eat it.
Boy: What does he eat then?
He doesn’t eat bread, fruits or meat.
Girl: May be if we cook it he will eat it and
we can have some too.
The boy burns the empty water bottles and pours papers over it making a good fire and holds the meat over the flame. The smell of the meat attracts another stray dog gradually creeping over to perhaps have a piece. The girl cuts a piece of meat by hand and holds it before the little dog’s mouth. Dog eats the cooked meat. Boy and the girl also eat some meat and throw pieces to other stray dogs. Gradually more and more dogs show up and encircle them.
20 – Some remote street – Day
Boy and the girl are sitting down watching people pass by here and there. A largely built man carrying bread and fruit in his hand passes by.
Girl: If you want to steal so we will get caught go take this man’s bread and run.
Boy: But I am not as strong as him. If he
beats me up I’ll be smashed.
The man passes and the kids wait again. Another man carrying bread and fruit passes by.
Girl: Go steal from this man.
Boy: See how tall he is. I’ll be crushed if he beats me.
This time an old feeble man who can hardly walk, passes by. He has bread in his hand. Both look at him.
Boy: Wait here I’ll go steal this old man’s bread.
The boy leaves and the girl and the dog wait, ready to run away.
The boy snatches the bread from the old man and runs towards the girl. The old man who seems to be ill-sighted, tries hard to figure out what has happened. He then starts to yell and curse.
Old man: May you burn in hell. May God punish you for stealing an old man’s bread.
The boy and the girl stand there and watch him. The dog smells the bread and licks it.
Girl: He can’t catch and take us to jail.
Boy: We’ll wait here. Go get the police to take us to jail.
Old man: May God damn you!
And he leaves, nagging.
Girl: Let’s give him his bread back, it’s a sin.
The boy goes and the girl follows and they reach the old man.
Boy: Here take your bread, I was just kidding.
Old man: (he gets happy) God bless you.
Girl: (She takes an apple out of her bag that she had bought for the dog and was now withered, and hands it to the old man. Here, take this apple too.
Old man: (He takes the apple, looks at it and returns it) Keep it for yourself dear, I have no teeth to bite it.
21 – In front of women’s prison door – Day
The boy and the girl are standing in front of the women’s prison knocking on the door. The hatch goes up and a guard’s eyes appear.
Guard: Who are you?
Boy: It’s us.
Guard: Who’s us?
Boy: We are night prisoners. They didn’t let us in last night so we slept outside.
Girl: We got really scared and it was cold too.
Guard: This is not your aunt’s house to come to party every night. If you really like the prison go commit a crime so you’ll get handcuffed and we’ll put you in jail.
Girl: We want to stay with our mother.
Guard: Who is your mother?
Boy: (Says her mother’s name)
Guard: What’s her crime?
Girl: Her crime is that she thought our father had been killed so she married another man after a few years.
Guard: Got it. You’re talking about that slut.
Boy: (raged) Your own mother is a slut.
The prison door swiftly opens and the furious guard steps out to beat the boy. The boy runs, so does the girl but after a few steps the guard picks up a rock and throws it at the boy.
Guard: Mother fucker, wait and I’ll show you.
Boy: (Throws rock at the guard from a distance) You are a mother fucker.
Guard: (shows prison door) Don’t you want to be in prison? Go ahead and I’ll show you mother fucker.
Boy: Mother fucker yourself!
22 – The wasteland – Day
The boy and the girl walk to the car where there had been a TV in the previous night. The car is locked and there’s no sight of the old man. Even the generator is inside the car and there are locks on all 4 doors usually used on old house doors.
Boy: You stay on watch and I’ll break the lock with a rock and we’ll steal the TV. Remember that boy had gone to jail for stealing a TV.
The girl guards around and the boy finds a stone and pounds on of the locks until it breaks. He gets in the car and tries to lift the TV but it is welded to the car.
Boy: We can’t take it. It’s welded to the car with iron.
Girl: Do you know how to turn it on? We might as well watch it in the absence of its owner.
Boy: Help lift this and I’ll turn it on.
They pick the generator and take it out with difficulty. The boy pulls the thread lever over and over and the generator starts working and the TV is turned on automatically. The kids get into the car and watch TV. The girl is completely absorbed but the boy is worried and looks around once in a while but keeps watching again. The dog watches around through the window and barks a few moments later. The boy turns his head. The old man is a few feet away running towards the car.
Boy: (to his sister) Run!
The boy and the dog escape but the girl is caught. The boy and the dog get a bit far and stop. The boy is frightened and the dog barks. The old man has taken the girl into the car and he is closing the door. Boy gets worried and walks forward. The generator’s noise prevents him from hearing the old man’s voice.
Boy: Come on, let go of my sister.
Old man: (rolls down window) If you surrender peacefully, I won’t harm you.
Boy: Either let my sister go or call the police to take us to jail.
Old man: I have no faith in the police. It is the same police as that in the Taliban time. I punish criminals myself. I am not lame!
Boy: Please don’t bother us. Let her go or call the police to come take us to jail.
The old man rolls up the window. The girl is crying. The dog barks and the boy is so upset that he picks spoiled fruits and targets the old man’s car window. The old man speaks a while with the girl, then comes out, locks the door and runs after the boy. The boy and the dog run away and the old man goes another direction. The boy cautiously approaches the car and uses a rock to break the lock but the new one is bigger than the previous lock. From a distance the old man rushes back again. The dog barks. The boy breaks one of the windows with the rock and brings her sister out and they escape. Once they have gone far enough they pant and slow down.
Boy: Did he harm you?
Girl: (crying) No.
Boy: What was he telling you then?
Girl: He said: “Don’t be afraid I won’t harm you. I used to have a girl your age that was killed in an airplane bombardment. Will you become my daughter?”
Boy: What did you say?
Girl: I said no.
Boy: What did he say then?
Girl: He said: “For God’s sake be my daughter. I am alone. I’ll buy you earrings, bracelets and necklaces instead.”
Boy: What did you say?
Girl: I said I wanted to go to prison to be with my mother.
Boy: Now we have to go visit Dad in jail. It’s getting late.
23 – In front of men’s prison – Day
It’s visiting time. Boy and the girl enter.
Boy: Can we both go see our dad because it’s his last day here?
Guard: No just one. You went yesterday.
Boy: You go. Cry and ask him to forgive Mom. I’ll wait for you here.
The girl goes in, the boy and the dog wait. The boy starts collecting paper and garbage and begs from a couple of cars. The girl returns and the boy goes towards her. The girl is crying and both start to leave.
24 – Sidewalk – Day
The boy and the girl are walking.
Boy: Did you ask Dad to forgive Mom? (girl is crying) Did you tell him we slept outside last night? (girl cries) What did Dad say? (girl cries and sniffs her nose) Do you want to go to Mom?
Girl: (crying) But they don’t let us in.
Boy: We’ll beg, may be they will.
25 – In front of women’s prison – Day
The boy knocks and the same guard that had gotten furious and sworn at the boy the last time, opens the hatch and opens the main gate upon seeing the boy but the boy runs away and stands back.
Guard: You cheeky kid, is that you again?!
Boy: Let my sister go in the prison.
Guard: But you said my mother was a slut.
Boy: I am sorry, forgive me but you said the same about my mother.
Guard: But my mother is not a slut but yours is really a whore.
Boy: Your own mother is a whore you mother fucker.
Guard: (runs a few steps and throws rock at the boy that’s running) I’ll kill you if I catch you.
26 – Street sidewalk – Day
The boy and the girl are sitting on the curb. The dog licks the girl’s hand and she is petting him. They are watching people passing by. Suddenly, she sees a money broker exchanging thread banded afghani bills with a couple of dollar bills.
Broker: 70,000 Afghanis for 100 dollars.
Customer: 80,000 Afghanis equals a 100 dollars not 70,000.
Girl: That man has a lot of money. If we snatch the money from him he will turn us to the police.
Boy: Look how big he is, even bigger than our father. If I steal from him he will badly beat me up too or he may even kill me.
The broker and customer raise their voice in argument and grab each other by the collar. The kids turn their eyes away.
Girl: That man sitting over there who’s not selling anything, looks kind. If he catches us he won’t beat us. See how sad his eyes look
Boy: Don’t be fooled by his eyes. He is sad because no one buys anything from him. If someone steals from him he will break their head with a rock. He is very stingy. I bought something from him once.
They look around again. A burka-wearing woman passes the side walk holding her kid’s hand and a basket in the other hand.
Girl: (points to the woman) Steal from that mom. Moms are kind.
Boy: (to the girl) Watch the dog, when I get caught you come forward too and say that you are my accomplice.
Although the girl is ready but she is extremely nervous and holds the dog tightly in her arms. The boy goes forward and jostles the woman, grabs her basket and runs away. The woman screams and runs after the boy. The boy turns into a street and the woman follows.
27 – A dead-end alley – Day
The alley is a dead end. The boy stops midway in the alley. The woman reaches him.
Woman: So anyone who is hungry, is supposed to steal? Go beg if you are hungry.
Boy: I am not hungry. I want to go to jail.
Woman: God forbid dear. There’s just bread for my kids in that basket. You are like a child to me too. Take one and give me the rest.
Boy drops the basket and steps back. Woman picks the basket and gives him a piece of bread. By now the girl and the dog have arrived too.
Girl: I am his accomplice. Take me to jail too.
Woman: (also hands the girl some bread) And here is your share.
Woman leaves and boy and the girl are so hungry that they bite on the bread and go out the alley.
28 – Other alleys – Day
The boy and the girl walk the alleys.
Girl: How come nobody arrests us?
Boy: Because no one loves us.
Girl: What have we done that no one wants to take us to jail?
Boy: Even our father doesn’t love us.
Girl: Why then that boy who had stolen a TV and films, did go to jail?
Boy: Let’s go and ask him how he got caught?
Girl: No, I am scared. Remember he said not to take me there any more?
Boy: But we don’t want to spend the night there.
29 – Moving carts area – Day
The naughty boy is sitting on a cart selling CDs and videos. Indian and Hollywood movie posters are all around him. The boy and the girl reach him.
Naughty Boy: Have you been caught yet?
Boy: Nobody arrests us
Naughty Boy: Did you steal at all?
Boy: Several times.
Naughty Boy: You are so lucky. I was caught the first time I stole.
Boy: Will you turn us to the police and tell them we are thieves?
Naughty Boy: Everyone is a certain criminal. I am a thief not a human dealer. If I were given all of Kabul I wouldn’t sell human beings. But for a ticket to the movies I will even rob your pocket. (Opens his fist and throws what he has stolen from the boy’s pocket in front of him which is nothing but a handful of coins) And here’s proof.
The boy gets shocked. The pocket is inside out.
Boy: Where did you learn to do that?
Naughty Boy: From those films. See that movie theatre? It’s showing a cool movie, Bonny and Clyde. It’s about a boy and a girl that rob all banks, kill everyone and escape. If you want to enjoy yourself you can buy tickets with the coins in your pocket. But if you want to get caught like clumsy people there is a cinema over there with no one in it. They show an art film about a poor guy who gets caught the minute he initiates stealing.
Girl: Which cinema?
Naughty Boy: Don’t let your sister speak to boys because they’ll fall for her and you’ll be in trouble.
30 – In front of the movie theatre – Day
Kids are buying tickets from the movie box office.
Boy: Two tickets, Sir.
Ticket man: This is an art movie. It’s not suitable for you. If you go in and don’t like the film you can’t return the tickets.
Girl: We won’t come out.
Boy: What’s the film’s story?
Ticket man: If I tell you the story why would you want to see it then?
Girl: Is the story about a thief?
Ticket man: Yes but there’s no action in it. The thief is clumsy and gets beaten up. I swear the film is not good for you. If you go in now you’ll see that there’s not even one soul in the theatre. Go to the other cinema where people have lined up to go in. They are showing an Indian movie and my own brother sells tickets there. At nights when this cinema closes I go there and watch a fine movie and then go home.
Boy: We want to see this film.
31 – Movie theatre auditorium – Day
The ticket man gives them two tickets then he follows them in.
Ticket man: Wait let me tear up the tickets myself. In a cinema without audience one person does everything. (he tears their tickets and opens the door.) The auditorium if filled with emptiness. (he takes the flashlight out of his pocket) Family section, gangs section, front seats, you can sit wherever you want. But if you want my advice neither the front nor the back are good. The middle is better. The sound is bad in the back and it’s not focused in the front. The middle section is not bad. The kids sit down where the man directs them to with his flashlight. Besides them three other people (looking like intellectuals) are sitting sparsely in the theatre. The ticket man leaves and the kids start watching the movie. The dog barks. The girl covers its mouth and whispers something in his ears.
Girl: Don’t you bark otherwise they’ll throw us out.
On screen the film Bicycle Thief is showing (the scene where the man steals the bicycle and gets caught) Boy and the girl are totally absorbed. The dog is also watching the screen.
32 – Street – Day
The boy and the girl are sitting in the street watching bicycles that people are riding to go home from work. A traffic control officer is standing in the middle of the intersection.
Girl: I am scared.
Boy: You are always scared when we are about to do something.
Girl: But they will beat and swear at us.
Boy: You sit here and as soon as I steal the bike yell: “Thief! Thief! Catch him.” Then when I’m caught, beaten up and sworn at come forward and say that you were with me so they’ll bring you to jail as well.
Girl: What about the dog?
Boy: We tell them he was with us too.
To get ready the girl fastens the dog on her back with help from her brother and ties her chador in the front on her chest.
Girl: Is that old man good?
Boy: No he is kind and will forgive us.
Girl: What about that man buying bread?
A medium built man has parked his bicycle on its jack to buy bread. The boy runs, takes the bicycle and walks away.
Girl: (yells) Thief! Thief!
The bicycle owner comes to notice and runs after his bike, screaming. The traffic police notices and blows his whistle. Some pedestrians and bikers run after the boy. Dog barks on the girl’s shoulder. People beat and humiliate the boy. A pick-up truck arrives and police throws the boy in the pick-up and they speed away.
Boy: (From the pick-up) That girl is my sister. We both want to go to jail.
Girl runs, weeping. Dog barks on her shoulder. When girl becomes hopeless she stops running and tearfully watches the speeding pick-up that’s taking the police, her brother, the bicycle and its owner away. Bicycle riders pass by her and the dog. Girl keeps crying and slowly walks in the direction of the car taking her brother away. Dog barks at the bikers passing by them.
33 – Corridors and courtyard of boys’ prison – Day
The boy’s eyes are covered. He takes off his clothes and an officer checks him. Then the officer grabs the boy’s hand and directs him somewhere. A moment later in front of a courtyard the officer removes the eye cover and sends him towards other boy prisoners. The boys are gathered in the yard watching the new comer. Boy wants to ask the officer that brought him to jail but the officer is now gone and locked the door behind him.
Boy: (to a prisoner) But my mom is not here.
Prisoner: This mommy’s boy wants his mom!
Another prisoner: How about a pacifier? Does he want one too?
Other boys (prisoners) laugh and one of them imitates a crying baby. Another boy pretending to be the baby’s mother hugs him and tries to calm him down. The boy imitating a crying baby pretends to gradually get calm in his mother’s arms. Boy witnesses this scene.
34 – In front of women’s prison – Night
Holding the dog the girl cautiously approaches prison door and knocks. A while passes without any response. Dog barks and the girl knocks harder on the door with her tiny hands. Hatch goes up and the eyes of the guard that had become mad, appear.
Girl: Will you also jail me with my mom and my brother?
Guard: Who are you?
Girl: The bicycle thief’s sister.