The Grinch who couldn’t steal Nowruz either

     After 3 weeks of not being able to touch base with a student from northern Afghanistan, one of our tutors had this joyful conversation with the student who gave permission to have her words typed as she spoke. She is a very special young woman as the following makes plain. Her name is being withheld intentionally—but with the conviction that some day, thanks to young people like this, such measures won’t be necessary.

TWO days before Nowruz [March 20th, the start of spring and New Year’s day in Afghanistan] the Taliban destroyed the power plant where we get electricity. We still don’t have electricity. That is why I haven’t been able to have our lessons. I’m so sorry. I missed you!
     
Tutor: I missed you too. But how are you able to call me now?           
     Student: My older brother’s phone still has some minutes on it. I asked him to come to our house and let me use his phone. He is waiting in the other room with my parents while we talk.  

     Tutor: Were you able to celebrate Nowruz?           
     Student: Yes, of course!  It is a special a day for us. There was no reason not to celebrate. We went for a picnic. The weather was so warm. Spring has come!  We went for a picnic with my brother’s fiancé’s family. You know my brother was recently engaged and it is a tradition here that on Nowruz the bride’s family invites the groom’s family over for Nowruz. They prepared special presents for us and then we had a picnic. On this day we always prepare what we call haft mewa.  This is a special salad made of fruits and nuts. It has prunes, raisins, apricots, plums, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts. You can have more fruits if you want.     
     We found a place by a river to have our picnic. We sang and danced and took pictures. Some people were fishing and were collecting little bits of gold. There is gold in the river so some people go there to look for it. When they find it then they sell it.          
     Tutor: Did anyone find any gold?!     
     
Student: Yes, I think so. But I want to tell you what else I did. It made me so happy. I am usually afraid of animals, but there were some sheep in a field and they had little baby sheep with them. The babies were so sweet.  I really wanted to hug one . . . AND I DID!  It was won- derful. The baby was so soft and sweet.
     You know, it’s wonderful to be with family. Everything is more beautiful when you are with your family. No one can take your happiness when you are all together. —  

 ©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