My father is the important person in my life. He was the first person who taught me good things and how to avoid making mistakes. He is different from most fathers in Afghanistan: he is not prejudiced and he gives me the freedom to choose. He never hit me when I was a child, but instead warned me that he knew what I was doing. This worried me! My mother said he would punish me, but it was just her saying this, not him doing it.
My father did not like to hear me say I didn’t want to go to school. He always told me that we should never try to get out of going to school because the things we learn at school we won’t learn at home. One time I wanted to go to a wedding ceremony, but I was in class from 10 until 4 in the afternoon; the wedding was at 4. I wanted to spend the day preparing for the wedding. My mother told me to ask my father if I could stay home. He said no, I needed to prepare for the wedding the night before, and after school I could go to it.
My father never speaks to me in a loud voice and he never repeats things. He says something once and expects me to do what he says. He is handsome. He is thin and tall and serious looking, although he has a kind and happy face. He never gets angry with anyone; instead he has a smile when he responds to someone. He never tells me not to wear pants or a skirt, but if I wear something he does not like, he gives me a deep look that I understand. He is serious in his selection of colors and he doesn’t want me to wear red clothing for official work. He hates it if I wear my veil so tightly that it binds my face and none of my hair can be seen.
My father wanted all of his children to learn a skill or an art in addition to our education. He told us that he when he was young he learned calligraphy, drawing, and sculpture, so when he graduated from the university and couldn’t find a job, he wasn’t disappointed because he could work as a sign painter. After a few years he found a job in a governmental organization, but he also used his painting skills there, making the office more attractive. If you know two skills, you can be two people, he told us.
My father has been hard working, from his childhood until now, always doing his best in studying, education, and art. He has several notebooks from his youth where he composed poetry. He made sculptures and too many drawings. He told me I should learn how to draw and have a thirst for learning, and that if I want to go somewhere in the evening for studies, he will come and pick me up. He doesn’t let any family members, even my brothers and male relatives, interfere with my studying. Because of my father, I love to learn.
photo: Michael Foley