Every house in Afghanistan has couple stories to be shared – stories of immigration, wars, and occupations mainly. Well, my story starts from 12th April 1993 when I was born in the heart of Asia – Afghanistan. Though when I was born there was no birth certificate to be issued in my name; but I am sure about my date of birth for the sake of the rich tradition of the community I lived in. In the community I was born,a child’s birth day was written on a piece of paper and kept among the pages of Holy Quran so that it could be used as a birth certificate. I can remember my childhood days from some joyful moments – a small handkerchief pinned on the shoulder part of my Pirahan (shirt) for wiping my nose, a talisman hanging around my neck to avert evil eyes and bring me good luck, and also a bicycle tire with a stick which was rolled by me around the village. My village, Chelbaghtu, surrounded by hills and mountains was brightened beautifully by the light of halogen torches during those dark nights after the sunshine was diminished beyond the daring mountains.
The lifestyle of the villagers was very simple. Women had to wake earlier, fan a fire in tandoor and bake some nans with eyes squeezing and watering against the smoke, prepare breakfast, sweep the rooms of the house, feed the sheep, goat, cow, and chickens, go to the fountain for washing the dishes and laundries, lug buckets filled with water from fountain to the kitchen, spread rug outside the house in the sunshine to enjoy a cup of tea or maybe bring threads and needles to start sewing, and some other daily activities.
Men had to water the trees by turn – one villager after another according to the schedules made through cooperation of the villagers so that the fountain’s water could be used by all for watering the trees and farming lands, cultivate on farming fields, collect woods and dry leaves as a part of their contingency plan from the fields for making fire by burning them during the harsh winter, cut bushes from the mountains and transport it to the kitchen so that it could be used to make a fire easily (because bushes can be burned easily) during the winter, etc.
For the elders (persons aging above 70) who are mainly weak and could have felt cold in hot seasons too, sunshine was a great natural gift. The elders used to sit in front of the house on a rug or on a wooden charpoy after the sunshine reached the village. They would start fingering their prayer beads and gazing at the areas around the house; maybe remembering the old beautiful days of their boyhood / girlhood. If they got bored of gazing around, then they used to meet other elders of the village in order to share the old tales. For meeting other elders they had two choices, either go by foot through using a cane which was tipped before them (like current car tires that roll before the driver’s seat) before taking each step, or riding their donkeys (during that time donkeys were used as a means of having bumpy rides).
For a child the life was so joyful till they would have been seven or eight years old. They would have enjoyed playing hide and seek with other children or maybe rolled bicycle tires by a stick around the village. After the children had grown and became seven or eight years old, they would have been sent to the mosque on daily basis in order to be taught about how to read, write, and also understand the concept of Islam and its principles by the help of the clergies who were recruited by the villagers, and given a specific salary to live in the mosque, call for prayer, and teach the village’s new generation. When children entered teenage years, the boy had to follow their father’s job (being a farmer/shepherd/clergy) which had been a legacy from their forefathers to his father and now from the father to the children, and a girl had to follow the legacy of her mother and be a housewife.
Life has been different and harsh for our tribe (Hazaras) from many centuries in Afghanistan due to being Shia Muslims where the majority of the population are Sunni Muslims. During the rule of Abdur Rahman Khan, the emir of Afghanistan (1844-1901) more than 60% of our tribe was brutally killed due to the same reason. Again it was during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that life became harder for us (mostly because of our different religious belief comparing to the ruling Taliban Government) and other Afghans in Afghanistan. The Taliban who ruled the country, were Sunni Muslims, and strictly believed that Shia Muslims are kafirs (infidels). In Mazar-e-sharif during the Taliban regime more than 5000 Hazaras were killed according to the UN estimates. Likewise hundreds of Afghans were killed due to strict principles invented by the cruel Taliban and then connected to Islam, though the cruelty that happened by Taliban, is not based on any of the religious beliefs; religions are a way of living peacefully and letting others live peacefully.
We had to leave the country during the cruel regime of Taliban. My parents planned to move to Quetta, Pakistan – the nearest and safest place for living where already thousands of Afghans had immigrated. Security and education was the only reasons of our immigration. My parents were saying that in Quetta my sister and I could go to educational centers and change the fortune of the country in future.
We left Afghanistan for Quetta in search of better future in 1999, but during those days Taliban did not allow Afghans to leave the country because thousands had already left the country. They were controlling the border strictly and interrogating every citizen who wanted to leave the country. We had to plan something to deceive the Taliban interrogators at the border. Fortunately at the border my parents said to the interrogators that one of their children is seriously ill and they are taking him to Quetta for treatment.
Well, we succeeded cheating the foolish Taliban at the border and travelled towards Quetta where my father and uncles had built a small house jointly. I was missing my days in the village when I started living in a street where I had no friends. Once, after some days of arrival in the new house, new street and new country, I insisted my father to take me on the rooftop so that I could see my village, after being on the rooftop I asked my father that “Where is our village, Atai (Atai is the similar word for Father in our language)?” My father answered “The village is hidden behind the mountains; you cannot see it from the rooftop.” I sighed, became disappointed and climbed down the ladder.
My sister and I were too young to be sent to school, so my father taught us the books of first and second class of school through home-schooling, and in the year 2000 when we both aged, we started studying third class at Noor High School (This school was established by some active Afghan immigrants so that their children could get education, and my father was a teacher in this school and Bilal High School which was also established by Afghan immigrants)
Later on, my father enrolled my sister and me in Excellent English Language Centre (This Centre was also established by Afghans in Quetta) where we both started learning English Language. We both enjoyed learning English because we had got some intelligent and friendly teachers. My sister and I were still too small to join school or English language centres, though I was short but my head was bigger than an average person’s head in that age, that’s why every example for a new English word in the class was being given on me and my big head by a good teacher of mine; he would say examples like “Najeeb’s head is big” or a similar one.
My brother, Abdul Wahab, taught us how to use a computer during those days. We had a Pentium 3 computer and after I learned using Microsoft Word; my father would give his Persian articles to me so that it should be typed and later on he would come to compose the article by my help through the computer. I also enjoyed playing my first computer games with my new best friends who lived in the same street.
Here I was not rolling bicycles tires by a stick everyday but I was playing football, and cricket, flying kites with my new friends, going to school, English language centre, and also learning computer – things that were banned by Taliban in Afghanistan. These bundles of happiness caused forgetting the old memories from the village where I would have been a professional farmer or maybe a shepherd if we had not left it for seeking a place where afterwards education would be a legacy for our future generation. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, girls had been restricted to attend schools and get education, so I was very happy for my talented sister who was attending school together with me.
After the Taliban regime collapsed in 2001 by the help of international troops, my sister and I continued to study till 11th class in Quetta, though my father and other members of the school had shifted a branch of our school to Afghanistan after the collapse of Taliban regime for educating the future generations of the country. In 2007 we came back to our motherland where my sister and I continued studying in Afghanistan. Though Hazaras were not safe in Quetta also due to being Shia Muslims where again the Sunnis are the majority, but still they were safer in Quetta than in Afghanistan. Sunni extremists attacked many times on Shia mosques from the first years of Hazara’s immigration in Quetta, but from 2009 onwards the extremists increased their attacks which are continued till now, and has caused killing of thousands of Hazaras in Quetta. Quetta, the only hope of Hazaras living in it, has been transformed to hell now.
Analysing the pros and cons of our immigration, I realise that it has been much beneficial for me, my family and my country. For me as an educated individual, for my family as an educated member and for my country as an educated citizen who prefer pens and ideas for rebuilding the country rather than gun and artillery.
Coming to Afghanistan, I became so happy seeing that the lifestyle of people, mainly the children (the country’s only hope) in some provinces of Afghanistan had improved after the collapse of Taliban regime. Parents were sending their children to educational centers; and universities were open for all citizens. We graduated from 12thclass in 2009. After the graduation we attended the examinations for entering university. Fortunately I was selected to study Science Faculty in Kabul University, and my sister was selected to study Computer Science in Polytechnic University of Kabul. Unaware of the prejudiced and racist officials in these universities I joined the Science Faculty dreaming to become a scientist, but after studying 3 semesters I could not bear studying any more in a university where marks were given to students based on their ethnicity (not merit) and also the studies which should have been practically taught in science laboratories, were being impractically taught to us on the black board where none of the student could have been able to achieve their dream of becoming a scientist.
I faced racial discrimination in Kabul University’s Science Faculty from the first day when I was sitting on the second line of the class among the 300 other classmates, the time table of the first semester was written by the teacher on the black board so that the students should write it. I started writing Taqsim Awqat Danishgah e Kabul, Danishkada Science (the Dari version of ‘Time Table of Kabul University’s Science Faculty’) on my note book that suddenly a fat Pashtun classmate who was sitting next to me crossed the Dari phrases , and told me in a rude manner to write the Pashto version of it. Though I don’t care whether “University” is called “Puhantun” or “Danishgah” in either language, for me it is not the name that matters, it is the professionalism that matters.
Finally my sister and I attended the Indian Scholarship examinations in Kabul seeking a better place for studying, and passed the examinations. I felt both happy and nervous after getting passed. Happy, because I can be able to get Bachelor’s degree in three years in India (though in Afghanistan it requires four years) where marks are not going to be given based on ethnicity; and nervous, because I had wasted one and half years of my precious life in studying Science Faculty. We left Afghanistan for India, now we are both studying our last year of BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) in India where I am the topper of my class.
I am happy that thousands of my young countrymen, who are the only hope of Afghanistan, are studying in universities worldwide for serving and rebuilding their war-torn country. I believe on my educated countrymen and countrywomen who can rebuild this beautiful country with unity, wonderful ideas, high spirit, and hardwork. And also believe that illiteracy and extremism is going to be diminished by the bright light of education through the new generations of Afghans.
Our country is going to face a crucial phase of transformation in 2014 due to presidential election and withdrawal of international troops. Though many Afghans think that again the Taliban would occupy and rule Afghanistan or a new civil war would start but I think that neither Taliban would occupy or rule Afghanistan beyond 2014 nor a civil war would start. Taliban occupied Afghanistan because Afghans thought that they are angels who can end the civil war, but Afghans experienced the cruel government, so due to this reason I think Afghans won’t allow these cruel extremists to rule Afghanistan again. A civil war won’t start because the commanders, who caused the previous civil war, has got older and can’t go to the mountaintops to fight once again, and fortunately their sons and daughters are studying in different countries around the world which means that the new generations of civil war commanders prefer education and development to gun and destruction. But still these extremists would try to destabilize the government and security by cruel attacks beyond 2014, as they do now. I am happy to say that for fighting those extremists, our country has brave soldiers to protect the Afghan soil.
I have plans to do my MBA in Human Resource Management after I get my Bachelor’s degree so that I and my other countrymen having the same objective, could be able to recruit professional employees in a country where still mostly nonprofessional employees rule the government and have resulted that our country gets the top positions in international rankings of most corrupt countries. I have been writing my diaries since 2006 and have plans to compose and publish my diaries as a book in order to show the true picture of Afghanistan and my beloved countrymen to the world, but still it is a long path to be completed. I want to change the perception of the people through publishing my book because as I experienced abroad, I have faced people who has asked me telling “Are you from Taliban?” after I have told them that I am from Afghanistan. I want to prove to the people of the world that Afghanistan is not only about war, conflict and corruption but it is a country of love, hospitality and natural beauty.