Deep in my country

One of this month’s theme stories.

AS a young Afghan woman I want to take you deep into my country past the worst. Yes, past the worst to something new. I want to take you deep into our hopes and dreams that have not died. We have the chance to step into a new life. In the past 19 years our country has had 1.5 million students, but only 5000 of them were girls. Today we have 10.3 million students which now include 3.3 million girls! 


Kunar Province.   Photo: public domain.


Calligraphy from the Shahnameh.   HB/TOA.   Public domain. 


     When you hear the words of a man of lore/ Sleep not, but gather well his wisdom’s store. / Yet while hearing all the greatness of his speech, / Mark well how much the roots are out of reach. [lore: experience]   

*****     All this world is like a tale we hear; / Men’s evil and their glory disappear.

     In my country you will find great mineral riches—copper, gold, iron, precious stones. You will find the best pure water and sweet air, and the finest fruits and vegetables—our pomegranates, apples, figs, mulberries, grapes, apricots, and melons. There are more than 24 kinds of grapes alone in Afghanistan. Their flavor is like no where else in the world. 

     In other countries people have technology to help them, but my country still uses scythes on their farms. In other countries people use trucks and trains to transport their fruits and vegetables. But my country still uses donkeys to move our country’s wealth. But we are proud to be Afghan—because of all that we have deep in our country. 

     Our country is one of the best in story telling. At night after work, our dear grandparents gather us all together and tell stories about the past, and stories filled with their wonderful imagination. 

     One of our most loved books is the Shahnameh by Ferdowsi. He saved the beauty of the Persian language and made it the language of the people, like Shakespear did in England. The Shahnameh is the longest poem ever written by one person. It has over 60,000 verses. It took Ferdowsi over 30 years to write this poem whose words are alive with wisdom and beauty. It is a 1000 year history of kings and their kingdoms. It has myths and beautiful love stories too. Even people who cannot read know its stories and can repeat its verses to you.

     But we have many, many other writers: Sadi, Rumi, Rahman BaBa, Ahmad shah Durrani, Maulana Jalaluddin, Mohammad Balkhi. Each of these writers has his own story to tell and when you read these stories they take you far and deep into our history.

     We also have beautiful calligraphy [handwriting that is like beautiful art]. It is very important to us. If you could see this calligraphy you would be in shock that a person could write this well with their own bare hands. I also do it sometimes but there are people better than me. 

     Look deep into my country: each child has a smile with thousands of hopes in it. Each face here leads you to new stories. In the future I want to tell you some of these stories. I want to be a writer for my country. When I am free even a minute I start writing and if I have problems I take my time so I can write well.  — Aysha

 Aysha and her family were refugees in Pakistan before being able to return to their loved Afghanistan. Aysha learned English by studying hard in school, reading books at home, and through news services like the BBC and CNN. Her dream is to become a great writer for her country. Aysha also writes for a wonderful organization called the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. 


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