My Golden Childhood

The golden years of my life were from when I was eight until twelve. I smelled the sweet scent of flowers everywhere: in my house, on the streets, on the way to school, and even in the school garden. Roses grew in front of our house and whenever someone entered our home, they first smelled the rose fragrance.

No one told me that I could not go outside or play football with the other boys and girls. I had friends including boys and girls in our neighborhood and each evening we went together to the bazaar to buy toys. My favorite toy was an electric jangle with animals on it. We also loved to eat ice cream. Even now I can taste the ice cream that was made from fresh mango.

My family was happy and they gave me much freedom to do what I wanted. My mother told me that this was the age to enjoy playing and biking, tennis, football, and even running.

I will never get those days back again. Now when I look at my life, I find I am too busy to find the time to play a sport or I don’t remember how to play. I can never say “no” to anybody no matter how busy I am at work. In my organization there is only one woman in each department. Whenever one of these women needs me to write a report, develop a new budget sheet, or prepare a presentation for them, I will not say no. It kills me because I think about how upset they would be if I said no. In Afghanistan, women are so restricted from higher education that they do not have the opportunity to use all the resources that men do.

The most enjoyable time of my day is when I come home at night. My nieces are the entire thing for me. They are five, three, and two.  When I get home they all stand behind the door screaming, “Hello Aunt!” That’s the first thing I hear, and then they all hug me, finally asking, did I bring them chocolate? Their laughter makes me happy. Their childish chatter makes everyone laugh. When they cry, I will try any trick to get them to stop. Remembering my own happy childhood helps me focus on planning for a better future for myself and other Afghan women.

By Fariba


  1. Claire Martin says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, Fariba. Your optimism is very inspiring, and your nieces are lucky to have you as a role model.

  2. Lovely story Fariba, your coming home to your nieces especially made me smile

  3. Hi Fariba,
    Thank you for this story. It made me cry, because I don’t appreciate the fact that I can run and play, and sometimes I let myself get so busy that I don’t even think to do it. Your story reminded me of my own golden years as a child, being free–having so much free time that I didn’t even know what to do with it!

    I hope for you–Enshallah–that you will be strong and continue to work towards making a better future for you and other Afghan women. Great writing and thank you for sharing!

  4. Another wonderful essay, Fariba. Your parents are so special. Please give my best to all the women in your office — I miss you and them very much. Now I think I will have to try to find Mango ice cream…

  5. Meghan H says:


    You are so hopeful and generous. Your writing is beautiful. Your beauty is shown with the words that you use. Your parents and family are so special to have helped you and inspire your. It made me realize that American women are so blessed and I appreciate that you view everything as a blessing. Good luck with work. I will be praying for you.

  6. Travis Easter says:

    I really sympathize with this story because not being able to enjoy the simple pleasures that I do right now when I grow older is a definite fear of mine. As I make this transition from high school to college, I realize that a lot of different things require my time and efforts. The fact that you have found something else in your life that makes you happy, your nieces, makes me hope that I will also have something in my life that makes me happy as time goes on.

  7. Kimberly V. says:

    Your story is very moving. I think everyone can relate to being young and enjoying the simple things in life, such as the smell of flowers. Your love for your neices shines through with the way you write about them. I hope you continue to share your story with us.

  8. Travis, that’s so beautifully said. I’m 27 and I finished graduate school a couple of years back and I’m still looking for my way. I’m sure if you seek, you will find. Just like Fariba did.

  9. Amanda D. says:

    This story is really touching because I feel the same way. My childhood was very influential on how I live my life today. When I think about my childhood it makes me think of all the good times I had. Children really do bring joy to families. I am happy for you that your nieces make you happy! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Erica D says:

    Your inclusion of detail makes your stories even more powerful and appealing. I’m glad you have such wonderful childhood memories to reflect upon. I’m sure you are making happy memories for your nieces as well.

  11. Debra D. says:

    Fariba, I feel the same painful nostalgia towards my childhood. I loved being a kid and having that innocent freedom. Sometimes I miss that time in my life and I can relate to your story. Your nieces are lucky to have you and hopefully you can create wonderful childhood memories with them that they can look back on. Continue working hard as you are an inspiration to all women for your determination and perserverance.

  12. Brianna D. says:

    I think we all we could relive the days of our childhood because things were much simpler. I have four nieces (and a nephew) and feel the same love for them. It is great being an aunt! You are able to influence their lives in a positive way and watch them live their golden years! I am very sorry you are not able to go to school any longer. The best of luck to you, Fariba. Thank you for sharing your story!

  13. Julian D. says:

    The sadness of lost childhood and innocence is something we all experience, and unfortunately those days can never be brought back. Regardless, I am glad you have young nieces with whom you can play and influence their lives positively, as I’m sure members of your family did when you were younger. While the golden years of your own youth may be gone, you can still create new ones for these children. Enjoy them.

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