Freshta Uncut

I write just to express

A celebration of Democracy on my 22nd Birthday

It is just one day before Afghanistan’s Presidential and Provincial Councils Elections. I am going out to buy my 22nd Birthday Cake. The usually crowded city of Kabul wears a deserted look, very few people are visible. Hands are holding guns tight, cars are stopped and cross checked, Afghan police officers are over alert. Everyone with even a small abnormal behavior is suspected. Shops are still open, although you hear chattering about voting and everyone is campaigning at a personal level for their favorite candidates.

As I walk towards the market and cross the smoky Kabab shops, I start thinking about elections and my Birthday. I look back to my life, 22 years ago when I was born on April 4 of 1992, around the nights that power shifted to so many people and to no one in Afghanistan!

Soviet withdrew in 1989, and two years later in 1992 Dr. Najibullah government, the Afghan President and a communist leader backed by USSR failed. Mujahidden, a rebellion group of people belonging to different parts of Afghanistan and few of them Kabul University students, emotional and reactionary with little experience of politics, frustrated with Dr. Najibullah’s government, considered against Islam and an invasion of the land took over the country.

On the month that I was born my family were happy and celebrating not only my birth but the ‘Islamic and peaceful government’ that they were going to have, unaware of the Civil War that came like a destroying , carefree flood that continued moving in every nook and corner of the country till next four years that is 1996.

Leaders of this war were so thirsty of possession that every street of Kabul was in possession of one or another of them and I was growing in middle of these wars and my toys were remains of bullets.

At the time I was 4, in 1996 a Toyota pick-up trucks, often used by Talibans then, stopped near our then house in Wazir Akbar Khan full of bearded black clothed men with big guns and suddenly everyone disappeared from streets. I was watching these moments like every other member of my family from holes of our old curtains, frightened and locked at our home.

When I was only 9 years old, in 2001, I  was witness the 9/11  event on our old color TV, watching fall of twin towers and sitting in a small dark rented room in Pakistan and that event changed fate of this little girl and millions of people in her land. A life changing event!

We came back to Kabul few months later. With my small feet I touched ruined streets of Kabul once again. Marks of bullets and bombs were visible in every second building of the city but for me, then a Cartoon Network addict, it all appeared like illusionary cartoon figures.

I grew with my country as our warlords and leaders grew in their political maturity, in their skill of compromising which were lost in another planet and was brought back by America, whether through pressure or money, but the result was a new government.

Our first Presidential election in 2004 was very emotional moments when the entire nation was shedding tears of happiness. In second election of 2009 things had changed, issues of corruption and transparency has disappointed most people.

Tomorrow on 5th April of 2014 my country and I will experience the third Presidential elections of our history and if it goes peaceful that will be the best birthday gift for me.

My first birthday gift was 4 years of civil war in continuation of that the cruelest government of Taliban but I strongly believe that after 22nd years of my life and after witnessing many political upheavals, I deserve a better birthday gift and that is a peaceful, democratic transition of power and a strong government. I claim it and I call it my right!

Tomorrow will be a celebration of Freedom, Freedom of choice, of deciding for our faith, for our future, for claiming all our rights as a human, for changing course of history, for showing the world that we are no more puppets, that Great Games cannot be played anymore here, that we are no more a playground and above all for writing our own history.

I reach to the shop and buy my Birthday cake but this birthday will be meaningful only when I receive my Birthday gift!

 

The fate of women in Afghanistan is on President’s table

Few days back, many women in Kabul gathered to raise their voices to support global campaign One Billion Rising, to extend their solidarity to women across the world and to advocate for rights of One billion victims of violence across the world. But just few meters away from the campaign area (Zanbaq Squere located near Presidential palace) on President Hamid Karzai’s table is waiting for his signature that will silence and suppress voices of these victims in graveyards of pain and will further victimize them.

The new Criminal and Prosecution Code bans relatives of an accused person to testify against them while most of the violence against women occur inside the homes and only family members and relatives are witness.

Victims in cases of violence are anyway victimized doubly as often they fail to report the cases either to police or to institutions advocating human’s rights due to issues of honor, lack of family support, bribery and slow speed of judiciary. But this law will further strengthen the instances of women to be further suppressed and they will further refrain from seeking little justice, that they had any hope of getting.

This law has been passed from two houses of the parliament where 25 % of seats are allocated to female MPs and currently it has 78 female members out of 249 MPs in lowerhouse. And n the upper house of the Parliament, there are 28 female MPs out of 102 members, who generally claim to be advocates of women’s rights. But political factionalism among them matters more than standing united against the issue that would affect women the most.

As the time of NATO withdrawal is nearing and uncertainty on the Bilateral Security Agreement continues, international donor agencies and INGOs appear in haste to finish their projects and leave the country, many forgetting their long-term commitments.

Many of the donors knew that this law may be passed in the parliament but neither is it being discussed in media adequately, nor do we see any sustained campaign against it. The United States and European Union did publically speak about their concerns, but that had little effect on the decisions of parliament.

Meanwhile, the opponents of women’s rights are getting bolder and even those who appeared to be championing the causes of the women at the peak of international community’s attention towards women’s rights, today appear to be flinching from their positions, talking in “ifs and buts,” in an hope of getting some position in future regime if that “if” get true and extreme regime came to power again.

 In the same Criminal Panel Code it was attempted to bring stoning back as punishment to adultery, but soon President Karzai assured that it will be not brought back. “It is not correct. The minister of justice has rejected it” President told to Radio Free Europe and huge wave of relieve and celebration appeared especially among civil society activists and concerned people. Stoning was prevalent during the Taliban period and even today in some areas under Taliban control it exists.

The law is on President’s table and only a signature away from becoming a law and consequently legally suppressing women but many women activists are expecting a repeat of history and are expecting from President Karzai to refuse signing it like in 2009, when he softened the family law enshrining marital rape as a husband’s rights.  They have taken appointment from the President to meet him and in 11 minutes are hopeful to change the game. But is President still that kind enough in his last few weeks in office and benevolent enough to not sign it?

Keeping fingers crossed, we need to wait and watch!

Journey to ruins of glorious past

Part One: In a light aircraft, feet high from land, closer to sky where some people believe God exists - at least it had been always my own childhood believe - and now being so close to sky to God’s abode, I was experiencing a sense of having Him somewhere near me. Certainly invisible indeed, sensible and such a strong sense that my heart jumped with delight as if today his mercy has directly touched my life; and nature around had been ordered to pamper me.

It’s not that I am flying in a plane for the first time, but this trip certainly looks much different.

In very short time, we were crossing high mountains full of white snow, sparkling with the Sunshine touching its face. Between these high mountains, small valleys and villages appear to have been sparkled, with only few houses and agricultural lands, each village separated by huge distance from one another.

 I wondered how these people could connect to big cities, to hospitals and to the world we live in. Every time, while talking of medical facilities, I am reminded of a Turkmen community I visited across Amu River and Gulnar’s voice smilingly complaining about corrupt doctors who would come to village clinic only once in a while and will check people who would bring milk, eggs and other such household products of the village.

My love for snow and mountains is endless, and after three years stay in India for education, seeing snow had brought back peace at my heart. A sense of cleanliness, a sense of purity, a sense of possibility of starting a new life and forgetting painful memories, the same way that snow covers all dirt of earth and makes a new beginning.

Witnessing combination of both snow and mountains, my current state of mind was similar to that of Tarzan when he first visited the city. My eyes were stuck to the windowpane of the tiny plane, my jaws dropped in surprise, and had a sudden desire to jump on to the peak of the mountains, breathing with fresh air with them.

My heart beats suddenly became faster, as the pilot, who was eating my favorite chocolate (being a light air craft we could see him) announced that we will be landing in few minutes. My eyes, which had momentarily fixated at the chocolate, which from distance appeared even yummier, now noticed that clouds had gradually disappeared and gave way to earth. 

And Here I saw the King of City: The Great Buddhas, two of them with little distance from each other standing still, long and pride, looking towards the city like caring parents guarding their sons, but alas his sons could never guard them and now our generation would only live with its memories, with imagination of its beauty, it is greatness, with the mere memory of lost glories of the old Silk Route that once passed from here.Our generation and generations after me, all of us will take this shame to grave, a shame that will never be removed that we could not protect our history, our legacy.

Part two:

Ghulghula: City of Screams

On a morning walk towards Ghulghula or City of Screams, taking a shortcut path, I am almost gasping for breath, as I inquisitively look to every passing human, hoping that finding me stranger, he/she could show me the way to the city and accompany me there, so that I could clear all my confusions, bombarding him with my questions. It seems, however, that I am too innocent to even think that I would appear innocent.

Ghulghula in Bamiyan is a mysterious name and a city hiding many secrets in its heart. The city of Ghulghula is a fortified urban site dating from Sasanian period in the 6th century AD, through to Ghori period 12th – 13th AD. The Citadel on the hill site became the heart of the Islamic city of Bamiyan following the decline of Buddhism here from 8th century onwards. After Islam spread in our part of the world, this city was built on top of hill while the statue of Buddha remained on its right side and Koh baba (Father Mountain) on the left. There are still remains of mosques and high culture of the time.

An old man working on his field and listening to music in his old black Nokia mobile phone, attracted my attention. Technologies’ outreach in the country surprises me and the fact that people now have rights and options to choose means of recreations, made me happier.  He guided me to the city but was too busy to answer my questions.

My walk towards this mysterious city of Ghulghula reminded me of mastery going on in Kabul, mastery about future, about life after 2014, life of millions of people who have just learnt to live a normal life despite all security and economic issues. Perhaps it is the biggest mystery of our history that in every corner of the country, in every path, in every home, questions and tensions about it is echoing.

Here I can finally see Ghulgula city, just a few miles away from me, crossing the agricultural land just few miles to be in Ghulghula. I abruptly turned back as felt that someone is pulling my scarf and they were my young shepherd friends, three of them together with their sheep and asking me to click their photos. These are the same children whom I met the other day near airport and had clicked their pictures.

Once a proud city on top of a hill, with thousands of citizens, may be also a king, a kingdom, a civilization but today ruined, with empty rooms, destroyed paths, broken walls and less discovered history. I wonder how proud civilization, ignorant to immortality, turn to what they never think of, to mere history. 

There are many stories behind the name of Ghulghula or ‘City of Screams,’ many of which appear as fable. Some say that once Genghis Khanhad ordered to massacre every living being in the city, including the animals, and since then it was called the ‘city of screams.’ Another version is that Genghis was in love with the king’s daughter (although the way history has been written and Genghis presented as ‘brutal savage,’ the love version appears strange!), who betrayed her father to marry him. However, Genghis developed suspicions about the girl, when he learned that the king loved his daughter a lot and wondered that a princess who has betrayed her father could betray him as well; and killed her.

Many other believe that this name was given because of the culture of ‘screaming’ of the inhabitants of the city every early morning when the sunshine directly touched Buddha’s face.  Even today when sun comes out in the morning, the first light directly falls on Buddha, but unfortunately there is no more his face, but his broken remains, every part laid down. 

Some elders in the area, however, argue that as the city was over populated at one time and noisy and hence named so.

Whatever be the story behind the name, the history of Bamiyan has been very painful, Bamiyan had always been the city of Screams, not once but repeatedly at every juncture of history.

Neither Genghis was merciful on Bamiyanis, nor Taliban and not even the weather! Genghis apparently killed every mortal being, even the animals were not forgiven, while besides bringing down Buddha, Talib “brothers” massacred hundreds of men in Yakaolang, leaving the district without any man or food, and women and children moaning and crying, and screaming. 

Part three:

Autumn in Bamyian

After two busy days of workshop at our provisional office of Bamiyan, I got impatient and could not wait for the three day workshop to end to visit the ancient city of Bamiyan and Buddha. I woke up early morning with awakening call of Azaan from nearby Masjid. After performing the Morning Prayer, waited for darkness to dim little and give space to light and then walked towards Buddha located just 15 minutes away from the hotel I was staying.

Weather was cold, on way I was playing with my foggy breathes, hands locked in my pockets enjoying its warmth no longer, than my colleague started pushing me to click his photos.

I entered the road that was leading to Buddha. I had never seen such beautiful path, and autumn or maybe I had never felt autumn as I sensed it today with all what they call 5 senses.

 Suddenly all those poets describing autumn as decay, comparing it to loneliness, to pain, to old age looked blind aged men who had lost their senses. I wonder how they had locked many minds and blinded many eyes to unlimited beauty of this season. As I was walking through the poetry of nature myself, was wondering if I need to go back and find a poem in favour of autumn. Or should I write one myself!

Some of these poets had described autumn as season beholding lives and liveliness, but life is here in these tall trees and their brownish cloths, their long branches like soldiers standing high guarding the city, in  cold breeze shivering me from head to tea, making my fluffy hair fluffier, nose red, hands cold, and cheeks senseless. Smoke coming out of Samawar (long metal kettles), with boiling voice of water, and fragrance of green tea , hard working labors rushing to tea houses with certitude of earning livelihood for the day.

Small Gunjeshkas (birds), sitting on dusty stairs and veranda near small rooms next to Buddha statue, leaving their footprints behind, flying with fear as I near them, voice of their wings with sudden movement echoing and breaking loneliness between me and Buddha. My hands touching small footprints of birds on muddy floor that now looks like a valued expensive art work.

What makes Bamiyan and Buddha more precious is the neutrality and originality of area around. Bamiyan is still kept natural, and wave of modernization if narrowly defined as high cement houses, the way it is in Kabul now, with little equal to no green space has not touched Bamiyan. In fact walking near Buddha’s cliff one feels as if going hundred years back.

In front of the cliff there is huge agricultural lands, farmers working on it, shepherd kids brining their sheep and playing entire day. Early morning as I was walking, frozen waterways between these lands, were looking like white crystals with combination of yellow and green grasses as expensive jewelry of gold and diamond.

Small shepherd kids with their long sticks running in joy, making best of their friendships that reminded me of my own loneliness and desire of being one of them.

Oh life is beautiful here, my eyes are wide open to capture its every minute, save it forever there and whenever back to my city among dozens of emails and deadlines, I close my eyes and with wings of these memories fly back to Bamiyan (perhaps again in autumn) and relive it.

Part Four:

I know who broke you down

A little closer to Buddha, when I was looking towards Buddha, rejoicing and feeling proud of our history, sense of belongingness to Silk Rout and joking with my friend about our forefathers crossing this path and how in today’s world we are called “uncivilized” and regarded as “extremists”, while we ignore our less discovered old civilization and history at own peril.

But this feeling of pride didn’t last for long, and had changed 180 degrees as I saw remaining marks of bullets laid down just few meters from Buddha Statue.

Some locals said that these are remains of same bullets with which “brothers” tried to destroy Buddha, but parts of it still appeared to stand resilient.  

As I proceeded, I realized that may be for me and for many other Afghans sense of feeling proud is very temporary and so quickly and sharply feelings of embarrassment and regression covered my heart so much that even marks of our previous feelings completely seem to vanish.

I was humming these words sitting next to Shahmama and witnessing sun rise from behind Koh baba (Baba Mountain) and looking at its first rays on Shahmma’s face who really didn’t exist anymore but the mere fact that for hundreds of years she had been there was making me feel better and I thought that I know who broke down Buddha.

Salam Shamama Buzurg( Great)

I have come so far to have a glimpse of you

Of you and your Salsal

Of your face shining with morning sun shine

Rays of sun so kind, with winds of baba (Baba Mountain)

Beautifying your golden treasuries of your eyes 

But eyes?

Your eyes, blinded since years 

By whom and when is a fact too unknown, too mysterious

But I know who broke you down

Down to feet and to pieces

Indeed you were strong enough

Hundred alien bullets, gifts of our neighbors couldn’t tear your heart

You intended to live,

Live for us

But I know who broke you down

Neither he neither him, nor those in command here or beyond those far lines

But you

 And your patience’s stone

Witness to screams

From city of screams, Ghulghula

To deep sigh of daughters of Yakwlang

All together swell your heart

And you blasted from inside

And I know who did this

You, yourself!

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History comes a full circle on 11 September brining proud moment for Afghans

Is it a dream or reality, am I awake or sleep, am I breathing or life is standing still?

I am sitting inside the car, not being able to understand my emotions, my eyes full of tears and completely out, in its occasional squirrel look, with mouth opened to its biggest size.

I am laughing, the laughter that comes out from depth of my heart, a deep sense of satisfaction, as if  a  caged bird is released, as if astray  drops of water have met the ocean, as if despaired mother has received the news of his lost son in war, as if it is Shaab-e-Qadar and my wish has come true.

on the same day, 12 years back, we were sitting in a small room somewhere in Pakistan, watching the collapsing buildings and people dying far away in New York, that changed the picture of the world and fate of my nation, in particular.

Although it will be cruel to declare but let me be cruel tonight, let me utter the untold feelings, the untold words,  let me express my affection to this day, to the turning point, that took thousands of innocent lives but at the same time gave life to millions forgotten, lost  souls desperately roaming for peace in every path, in every ally, in every streets of the same city, let me call this day as ‘Destroyer and Preserver’ like the winds of PB Shelly’s song in Ode to the West Wind.

For all humanity it was a painful day when many people lost their beloved once and I totally understand their pain since this pain is much familiar to us and every day in one or another bomb blast we experience it, even each drop of our blood has been tasting the pain yet for Afghanistan and Afghans this day in many ways is like the Santa Clause in Charismas that every year comes along with gifts, once brought change to live of thousands, with gifts of democracy and freedom and this time with gift of pride and pleasure. The lost pleasure in high mountains of Hindukush, Pamir or Baba. But it is back now to every creature around from red annars “pomegranate” of Kandahar which is shinning in joy, to black tuth (a kind of fruit) of Panjsher which are looking like black diamonds sparkling in the darkness of night, to every mountainous son of this nation, hopping in love and glee as if today they are tearing the heart of sky to thank Allah for giving back again. 

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( Photo is taken from www.firstpost.com)

Thousands of boys have spread on streets, children are shouting, wave of music is accompanied with wave of winds and is touching the glorious wave of Kabul mountains. Today these high mountains will be witness to the laughter, to the cry of happiness, to the tears of joy, to the victory of its sons springing from its heart and are back to the nation with gift of victory. Today this nation once precluded from every lyrical voice coming from the throat will sing songs of victory and will dance till the rising Sun, permitting the Sun too to become a witness of this historical moment.

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( Photos is taken from Google)

The guns shots heard for killing is now producing the sweetest ever melody, not shedding blood or tear but expressing the joy and laughter.

Every man from ethnicities as wide as Tajik, Pahtun, Hazara, Uzbik  are dancing in glee,in Rumi’s land, so lost in their happiness, as if all the Sufis of the world have gathered in their souls.

Tomorrow history will come a full circle; the stadium used for implementing justice in an unjust, has witnessed the rising sons of the soil.

In this mid night that I am writing this, still hearing the music from all four corners, and even inside me in my every vain, my every drop of blood, like all other Afghans is dancing and the music will go on and on and on.

Something in Common!

Sometimes when people ask me about my best friend, a big smile comes to my face, so big that includes all my happy moments of life.

I tell them about her with so much happiness, body language, and my usual hand movements which is of course extreme, crosses extreme lines and wave of my voice from down to up and heart dances with all the memories.

I wonder how people from different parts of the world, miles and miles away but get together and become best friends! But yes everything is possible.

Well we have so many things in common and so many differences as well. We both are from mountains’ countries, both are proud daughters of high Himalayas, both are strong like cold winter that our countries have, both are revolutionary and internally free like free winds of our lands which cannot be chained by any power of the world, and both’s hearts fly in similar dreams.

There was so much in common between Tsering Lhamo and me, but something more than anything else, something that without even speaking, our eyes were always sharing it, and our hearts were feeling.

Yes the pain was common, I had felt it and she too is feeling it.  I remember 11 years back how I was as a countryless child, roaming in foreign land, with the hope and desire of seeing my country one day before I die; as a free country, democratic, republic, with people happy and deciding for themselves.

Lahmo in Tibetan means Fairy, and this Tibetan fairy like many others and like us, today desire of seeing their own little Tibet free, to touch her soil, to see her Lhasa, to take the sheep and go on to the high Tibetan mountains, that is what makes a Tibetan happy.

I can’t forget that cold winter night, when Tsering and I had rapped big blankets around us and had secretly cooked maggi and made green tea ( cooking was not allowed in our hostel), lost in the fragrance of green tea and us talking about world politics, our country and people, suddenly deep silence broke in the room. (Tsering and I were in BA in Chandigarh, Punjab.)

Tsering, with tears in her eyes and polite voice which still echoes in my ear, said that she is the unlucky citizen of this world, who belongs to nowhere, who has no identity, no right to keep identity, no passport, no recognition, with no soil to stand for it for even a minute, and have that rejoicing feeling of patriotism and identity and such a forgotten nation.

She is from Tibet, a forgotten nation, now part of China; it is no more seen in map, rarely people remember Tibet and it’s history; no one questions how from this map this place and name was faded. No one talks of its people, their sufferings, as if it is an accepted truth, the same way that once my country was forgotten.

Sometimes as she joked calling me daughter of Ossama, I also joked and  asked her to wish for another September 11 in order to make the world remember  you; same thing happened to us, we were forgotten but an incident brought us to limelight, as if before the world was blind.

It is very harsh to say that since many people died in that incident, but a nation was released from prison.  So sometimes my selfish feeling makes me find it a fair deal.

I don’t know how many people actually from their hearts feel the joy of freedom; for those who had always been born free and grown free, freedom might not have been a feeling that sensible. But for some other people in this world, the happiest moment, the peak of happiness can be the mere breathe in free air of their land.

lifeisshorttheartislong asked: Thanks for the message. Are you Afghan?

Oh yes sorry I saw ur reply so late… Yes I am an Afghan.

Am I a human or a goat?

Now that I am growing and gradually understanding the unquestionable and strongly accepted cultures, many questions still come to my mind. These questions struggle with me, with my beliefs, with my logic, with cultures I grew, and  with the mindset that I am “supposed” to have.

I sometimes can raise voice, try to question, sometimes I calmly see the death, celebration of my own personal beliefs by my beloved once, sometimes the depth of the root of cultures gives despairs since it seems too strong to be changed.

 In my country we have peace, but yet there is bloodshed; we have freedom, yet many are slaves, we have security, yet many insecure lives; we have equality, yet many accepted unequal beings.

I too belong to that ‘slave’ category, in surface with equal rights but yet in depth an unequal creature.

Yes I am a woman, whose mere existence is questionable, whose birth rarely follows joy, celebration and voices of gun fires (traditional way of celebration in villages).  It appears to be a crime to be born as a girl, in many instances girl child is not even counted as the number of children one has.

If I see the situation through the prism of my religion,  over 1400 years back situations were somehow same, and Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) came to give us our rights. As time passed by, several civilizations were raised and declined, governments changed, climates, culture, people changed; yet the same building of thoughts vis-a-vis women remained as strong as ever, at least in our part of the world.

But sometimes still lost in thoughts, when I compare our situation with situation of women from neighboring countries; it seems that discrimination and injustice has been ingrained as part of our fate.  It is just that the form changes. In some places like India, it’s female infanticide, but in some places girl child is kept alive for future business.

This trade in going on since many years in this land, like the trade of goat or any cattle. I would take the liberty to call it goat business and myself a goat too. Girl child is grown up, given water, food and shelter, the same way that a goat is given till the goat gains weight and more meat, the same way a girl is also grown up till she reaches puberty, and then the goat is sold, the girl too.

Kandhari girl rate is 4 lakh, Badakhshani 7 lakh and Kabuli, maybe more. This goat selling culture has different names among different ethnicities of the country. Hazara call it Gala, Uzbek Qalein , Pashtun walwar, Tajik Sheer baha or Tuyana and other ethnicities with other names. I sometimes wonder that all ethnicities fought for 30 years and are popular for their disunity but when it comes to discrimination against women, then they share strong unity of following the same archaic culture.

Sheer baha basically means that the boys family has to pay for the amount of milk that girl had drunk as a child. Alas I live in a country where I don’t even have right on my mother’s milk even that is a liability that my would be groom family has to pay back.   

So here I am in this land, in this goat market, among thousand other goats, I too as a goat waiting for my unknown fate!

Note : I must not forget to mention that men too suffer from these cultures, that I will be writing more about it in my coming blogs.

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Hope still remains despite ocean of despair!

Last night after meeting my doctor and taking dozens of medicine for my throat infection, I went to the marriage party of my cousin.

Entering the hall and after sitting somewhere in the corner, I started observing people around;  It was a big surprise for me after three years stay in India. I could not believe if it is my own country, the country always visualized as land of war, bomb blast, Taliban, and I too had perhaps developed an “Eurocentric view,” an image of Afghanistan as a country with orthodox Talibs or poor children with dirty hands standing still somewhere or doing some work, or Afghan woman wearing blue Burqa with their dozens of children following her,  or with an image of president Karzai asking some or another country for aid .

*          *          *

For past one month, as I am back to Kabul and now watching the ‘vibrant’ Afghan media, where almost every day  there are political debates, the journalists and the guests - often a parliament member or someone representing the opposition group  - both sitting with most serious faces that they can have, and talking of 2014 and issues around the same topic .

Moreover, seeing Taliban playing hide and seek with the government it gives me more despair. For 11 years our government begged them to finish the ‘hide’ part of the game and come further for peace but they didn’t. When the call was by the world power, the same power that Taliban always curse, they appeared willing and even went on to the extent of giving their official speech in the language of the ‘aliens’ they said they are fighting against and in the process killing several innocent Afghans.

Overall the debates over 2014 and future of the country is so hot that sometimes I, and like me every other Afghan is scared. This year appears to me as the doom’s day that either we will decide whether we go to the heaven or the hell. 

*          *          *

But this marriage party revealed to me another side of the Kabul life in this city of hopelessness; it showed me the existence of happiness despite all the pain, and above all hope despite all the despair.

At least for the duration I was in the party, there was no more talk of politics, no more fear of anything or any blast, no more seriousness, no more hide and seek. Everyone around was looking the prettiest, and at the height of their happiness, with beautiful smiles. Children were playing, lost in their own world, aunties were gossiping, relatives of bride and groom were jumping and dancing - more of jumping than dancing. Bride and groom too were shining in hope for a bright future.

I felt happy that despite all the tiredness and despair still a huge wave of hopes has brought hopes back as water brings pebbles to bank of the ocean.

I started thinking about the city, the city I had seen 11 years back after Taliban period, with every single home being somehow ruined, or had some or another mark of war, with not much concrete infrastructure left. Who could have imagined that after 11 years it will have such fancy marriage halls? In a country where music was forbidden, where lyrical voices were suppressed even before crossing epiglottis, who could have imagined that today singers would sing with such high pitch that even the lifeless walls of the hall comes would seem to dance. Where women were denied to even reveal their face, although not prohibited even in Islam, who could imagine that today those same women themselves would decide what to wear or what not to, at least here in Kabul.

At the end of the day I didn’t know whether I am fooling myself by thinking positive and comparing the past with the present, and being optimist for future and that the reality is bitter.  But the very next moment a popular Persian proverb gave me new zeal of hope: “Dunia ba Omid khurda shuda (World exist only because of the hope).”

River Of Blood !

I am wandering on the Kabul streets; dust all around, I am not able to see anything. I hear a call, asking me to not go forward, but I walk ahead, still not able to see anything, my throat chocking, mouth full of dust, I fell down, and see the street full of blood, my hands also red. My white Kashmiri Kurta seems having got design with the drops of blood. I am scared, my heart beats fast and faster, I had never seen such river of blood in my life except in the Eid of Qurban (Eid al adha).  I look up to sky, to shout to ask for justice, but it is so dusty that I can’t even see the sky. I try to look up, it is rain of blood coming from sky and in my effort to see the sky soon my spectacles gets covered with blood.

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( Photo taken from www.time.com

Among these all dust and blood, shouts and cries, suddenly everything calms down, I see someone coming close to me. I hear the steps coming forward, and I get scared. For a moment I am scared to death and my heart beats faster as I wonder that a Talib is approaching me. I remember the stories of Afghan women who were beaten by Taliban for not wearing burqa and I quickly try to find my scarf but seem in this dust I have lost it somewhere. I try to run a way.

I am lucky though, this is not Taliban but a woman in white cloths walking slowly towards me. This is Mather-Kabul; I shout and run towards her. I try to hug her and cry but Kabul asks me to not touch her, all her body is full of blood as if she ahs demolished.

I sit in front of her; drops of tears come down from her eyes that cleanse blood marks from her face. Her eyes tells her story: how for many years her own unkind sons murdered her spirit to gain power by fighting with each other, how the door of home of this mother was open to every alien spy, who came and with their knife wrote the faith of this mother. And the drops of blood coming out of her heart was even smuggled, exchanged in ‘deals’ and taken to alien land.

I ask her, my mother you look tired, but in a moment realized the stupidity of my question. Of  course she is  tired, tired of her story, tired of her faith, tired of certitude, tired of river of blood to which she takes bath every day, tired of despair.

I want to give her hope, to hug her, to tell her the popular proverb that my mother always tells me; ( Bhad az har tarike yak roshani ast )  after every night there is a day. But deep in my heart, I know that for day to come to this country this mother needs to still needs to make innumerable sacrifices. And her children need to learn to compromise, need to reach to a maturity level and to have solidarity. I keep mum, and close my eyes.

I open my eyes; it’s full of tears and horror. I see around and notice that I am at home. Everyone is still sleep. I realize it was only a dream. I wake up, go to yard, and notice that in the sky there are still some stars, and that the darkness of the night is about to end as the dawn is taking over. I take a deep breath, and thank Allah for waking me from such a horrible dream, but deep in my heart I know it is a dream with much of the bitter realities in it.

(This blog was later published in Outlook Afghanistan on June 27, 2013 with the headline:  “A Dream with a Horrible Truth!” )

Link: http://outlookafghanistan.net/topics.php?post_id=7728&fb_action_ids=488630324552175&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582