My schedule is always the same: no free time, no time to relax, and all the days of the week are the same. Sunday through Friday, only work, work, work!

Every day my breakfast is the dust of the streets on my way to the office. And after that, the boring face of my boss, always angry and nervous, as if he fought with his wife. It wears me out.

I decided to change my stupid schedule and go to another environment, somewhere far from my daily work. My off-days are Fridays, and, wanting to forget the hot weather of summer, my husband decided we should go to the north of Kabul. When we passed the last street of Kabul and started our trip to the north, I began to feel some calm and peace. The weather was nice and the wind was kind, it kissed my face as if it understood I was tired.

The streets were quiet. As we traveled, we knew we were in a different place than the city.

To our right and left were green trees and beyond them — mountains; behind them more mountains on the right and a river on the left. We saw mud houses in the mountains and we loved this natural, unique, wonderful view.

I felt thirsty so we stopped the car and went to the river. The water was cold. I was like a dry garden inside!  I drank and drank. As we went further I was amazed at the big rocks in the river, and the river hugging the mountain. We found a small park with some tall trees next to the river. In their shadow we sat on the lawn. The sound of the water was exactly like a love song.

I noticed that there were no other females around; there were boys playing football, men drinking tea, children with kites. There were sheep and a cow — I think even they were male, too! It felt strange to be the only woman there. Although I looked totally Afghan, the men stared, perhaps because I had a camera in my hands.

The voice of the river was our background music. Some boys were swimming and I looked at the river and wished I could swim too. I could easily see my face in the river, and it was as if the river found what was in my mind. The water jumped from a rock. It was as if the river called to me, “Come on, swim! Swim!” I told the river, “Shhhh… I can’t swim, I am a woman, I can’t.”

I wanted to swim, but I was thirsty too, so instead I drank water. In an hour I drank five bottles of water! After that I felt heavy inside. I felt something was wrong, and I didn’t know why it was becoming difficult to enjoy being in nature. I couldn’t sit and I couldn’t walk.  After a few hours I felt even worse. There was no place to excuse myself, and I thought I might faint.

My husband washed my face in the river, and then suddenly I went down and down into the water. All anyone could see was my head — all my body was in the water!  All the men stared, children shouted, “Oh, look there, she is swimming!” The boys playing football stopped to watch me.

But I felt calm, and when I felt better came out of the water. However, when I looked at the water it was yellow!  I looked at the river and said, “Sorry, river! Forgive me, river!”

On the way back home, my clothes smelled. When I reached home I went directly to the toilet. But when I slept that night I could still smell the bad smell, and when I woke up the mattress was wet!

After that I didn’t have any complaints about my daily schedule, nor was I tired of all the angry faces of my boss. Because at least there was a toilet next to his office and I didn’t have to swim in the river!

Roya