My Smile

Childhood is a wonderful time. It doesn’t matter whether you live in poverty or instability, you can be happy in your small world. Small things are enough.

I did not have many toys or good clothes during my childhood, but I was happy. Even the war and the sound of explosions did not make my colorful childhood sad. I collected bullet casings from my yard and used them in my games. I made toys from pieces of cotton and wood and played with them.

It never occurred to me that children in another part of the world were playing with modern toys and beautiful dolls. I loved my school and friends. I was a happy and cheerful girl and people could not imagine me without my smiling face.

It was the same until the Taliban occupied our country and my city. They ruled the country with cruelty and violence for many years. Like a thousand other Afghan girls, I lost the right to education. Taliban made me stay at home. I was locked in a home prison for years. I lost most of my close friends who left for other countries.

Slowly I realized that something was breaking and disappearing inside me and that it was my happiness and my smile. I was broken by the violence that had been done to innocent Afghan people. I was a teenager, but I felt that I had lived long enough.

I felt that I was like a flower put inside a closed glass jar and forced to grow. There was no space. Everything was black and white.

Many years passed like this.

No violence lasts forever. Every night has its day. Finally the Taliban’s cruel regime ended. I got back my freedom. I finished school and university.

But something still disturbs me. My cheerfulness did not return completely. I always feel something is empty inside, although I have a smiley face.

That smile that appears on my face is not real.

This is something that I want to try to overcome. I must break that glass jar and grow again.

By Farida

Photo by Diana Haskins


  1. Barbara says:

    I was moved by your beautiful story. I believe you will break that glass jar and you will find that real smile again. Please keep writing.

    Sending you peace and love…

  2. Farida,

    This is such a beautiful and moving essay. I love the images you use to describe how you feel. You made me feel the despair of those lost years. I am sure that the real smiling girl is still inside you and you can get back to her. I hope your writing will help you do that.

  3. I honor and respect your ability to express the feelings inside of you in such a beautiful and heart felt manner. It is not shameful to express your sadness, both inside and outside of yourself. Allow yourself to feel the sadness of the lost years and friends and gradually, you may be able to feel that smile on the inside as well.

  4. Farida, what sensitive and expressive writing.
    A smile is contagious and while you might feel that sometimes your smile is a mask, veiling your sorrow, it is, nevertheless, a gift that you give to others around you. Keep smiling, retain your positivity, and write again.

  5. Lydia H. says:

    I am sure by sharing your story with women near and far, you are helping them to understand your world and how different and similar it is to theirs. Your struggle, growth, and ultimate happiness will inspire many people, and thereby providing you with some hope and satisfaction. Keep exploring your emotions through writing, it’s a treasure.

  6. Farida jan, it is really sad story, which we all have same how feeling about it. Iam hoping that it never happen to any of us again.

  7. may you find peace and happiness ( and a whole smile )…..

  8. Nearly four and a half years after you’ve written this, Farida, I am reading it again and moved by your honesty and self awareness. I wonder if you have cracked that glass?

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