Afghan women like to have a smile on their lips; they want to laugh as well as cry. But unfortunately they don’t have much opportunity, so we Afghan women try to laugh even if we have sadness.
After the fall of the Taliban, we began our new lives. Afghan women had been denied an education under the Taliban, so most of my classmates had problems memorizing the lessons. I was younger than they were, but I had continued studying in Iran during the Taliban days, so I was fortunate in that way.
When I was in seventh grade, I had the second spot in the class, so I had to compete with another student who wanted my place. I was studying a lot and working hard to do my best on all my exams. One day we had a geography exam, and it was going to be very difficult so I studied until midnight and again early in the morning. A best friend of mine was studying a lot too, but she had trouble memorizing things, so I tried to help her so she could pass. When I went to school, I was very tired because I’d had such little sleep. I did not want to talk to anyone.
Soon it was time for the exam. Our teacher, who was a serious person, entered the class. We stood up and he said, “Sit down, take your paper and pen and write answers to the questions.”
He always divided students into two sections. On that day, he told my best friend, “You go sit behind Seeta.” I smiled; this was a good thing since I would be able to help her. Then we started to write and I answered the questions for my group. My questions were easy, and soon I finished, but my friend needed my help, so I told her the answers and she wrote. After each question, she went up to the teacher and showed him her answer and asked if it was okay.
After the fifth question, the teacher said, “Oh, I do not believe how much you studied! You have done a terrific job for this exam. You answered the questions just right and exactly as I wanted. Well done, M!” (I am using the first letter of my friend’s name.)
I looked at my friend and she smiled and then she could not control herself; she laughed very loudly. All the class said: “What happened, M? You laughed very loudly.”
Then she stopped and said: “Oh my God, what I have done?”
“It was nothing,” I told my classmates. “She was reminded of a joke I told her.” But when I said this, it made her laugh more; tears of happiness were on her face, so we finished the exam with lots of laughter.
When I laugh and am happy, there are lots of tears on my face too, so when the class was over, I went out with eyes full of tears and a red face. One of my friends saw me and said, “Seeta, you did not do well on your examination? Is that why you cry?” She loved me and felt sad for me and took my hands. But, seeing this, I began to laugh more. Then she said: “Seeta! Are you crying or laughing?”
I told her what had happened and she started to laugh also. When we walked out of school, a good rain had begun and this made us laugh more because we liked the rain. We three started to run under the rain, happy that we had passed a hard examination and that we could cheat the teacher.
Now, again, I am laughing as I think about those good moments with my classmates. I hope all Afghan women get good moments at school.
photo by Seeta
Well done, Seeta! I love the image of you and your friends laughing and running in the rain. May we all, women everywhere, have a moment like that!