I am from the mountains of Afghanistan
From our green farmland in the village
From Uzbeky Qabuly pilau and kabob
That I can smell from so far away.

I am from a loving and caring family
From competitive siblings
From my mother’s songs
And from the hard work of my father.

I am from my father’s “lion” daughters
From feeling I have the ability of a boy in Afghanistan
From wanting to do anything I want to
and not caring what people say.

I am from quiet moments talking with my father
From “Do what you want to do towards your dreams”
and ”Know we will always be behind you.”

I am from sharing our days, sitting around the nicked dinner table on handmade wooden chairs,
From fun in the evenings with my six sisters and mom,
From laughter rising from the backyard,
From singing, talking, dancing, advising and joking around.

I am from Friday family gatherings and reciting the Holy Qu’ran
From my illiterate father, who cannot read
From his love for Fridays, when he hears us reciting.

I am from being, living and thinking independently
From making my own decisions,
Since I was in fourth grade.

I am from morning wake-ups for the school bus
From a milky and sweet cup of coffee handed to me by my American host mom
From the chatter of girls around me as I try to sleep
In those comfortable chairs on that smooth road.

I am from my host’s father praying at the dinner table
From his teaching us manners
From “Don’t start eating until everyone is around the table”
From “Don’t argue,” and “Keep your hands off the table.”

I am from playing volleyball at school in San Antonio, Texas
To playing volleyball on the unlined playground in Afghanistan,
Barefoot, hot sun beating on my school uniform of white headscarf and black dress
With all these problems
The players would smile with satisfaction.

I am from a country that kills girls’ talents,
From a society that doesn’t want women to work outside the house
From trying to teach those people
From knowing that everyone is not and cannot be the person you want them to be.

I am from gaining so much confidence
From my teachers’ help,
From friends’ support and my family’s courage
From being proud to be a girl in this same society.

By Fatima A.