Free to forgive 

    Story by Farida. Native language Dari.  

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LIFE has taught me a lot about forgiveness. When I was little, I was always afraid when a Pashtun man came to our house. I would run and hide somewhere. My parents never said anything bad about the Pashtun people. Other children told me terrible stories about them and so I was afraid. 

     Then I started to go to school. I was eleven. To my shock, one of my teachers was Pashtun. He was our Pashto language teacher. He had a long black beard. The first day, he taught us a few words in Pashto and then he asked me to come to the front of the class (near him) and repeat what I learned. I couldn’t do it. I was so afraid but he was patient with me. He asked me many times. Finally he said, “Farida-jan please come to the front of the class.” I was so surprised when he said jan [dear]! Still I couldn’t go up to the front of the class and so he let me repeat what I learned at my desk. When I finished he said to the class, “Farida-jan did a very good job. Please clap for her.” He was so kind!

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I knew it wasn’t her idea. She was just taught to think that way. . . . I just walked away.

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     I have grown up now. [Farida is now 15.] I have learned many things. I learned them from my own experience. No one taught me. One day about 6 months ago, I was in Kabul trying to find a bus that would take me to my home town. I said to a woman at the bus stop, “Please, is this the bus to —?”  She answered, “Why should I help an ugly Hazara girl like you?” Many people here say that the Hazara are lower than other people. I was not angry with her. I knew it wasn’t her idea. She was just taught to think that way and say such things. She just didn’t know any Hazara people. I did not get upset. I just walked away.  

     Our only problem is that we don’t know each other. Once my best friend said something very unkind about the Hazara people. I said to her, “Please don’t say such things because I am Hazara.” She was so shocked.  She said, “How can that be? You’re just like me! You’re a good girl and so pure!” She was so surprised. She was taught something wrong. When I understood that, I was free to forgive her.  

 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com