“The more you dare to want, the more you will achieve.” My mother and father repeated this phrase to my brother, my sister, and me throughout our childhoods. They advised us to work hard. We made plans for our future.

But children do not understand; life is not as simple as they imagine.

In 1997, when I was nine years old and my brother was ten, we made plans for 2010. We decided we would be making our own money; we could buy a car, a house, own a business, and make our parents proud. My brother would become an engineer and I would become a doctor. My brother said he would let me take English language courses even though my father had not given permission.

During these discussions my brother would sometimes point out that after we got married we’d be separated because brides usually go to live with the groom’s family. Then he would start crying and I would try to get him to think about something else.

I told him I would not get married, which made him happy. Our parents listened to us talk of our dreams and wished the best for both of us. My mother prayed that Allah would grant us our ambitions. 

We were too young to see the challenges that life would present or to recognize that circumstances could come between us and the goals we made. We still believed what our parents had told us: “The more you dare to want, the more you will achieve.” And so we dared. We wanted.

My brother and I counted each passing day, waiting for 2010. I was accepted into Kabul University, where I studied Islamic law. He majored in science at Jowzjan University. So we lost one wish: I would not study to become a doctor. We were optimistic about the future.

Life was soon busy for both of us, and eventually our dreams were mostly forgotten. Then, in 2008, we sat together and recalled our dreams. We had nearly given up on our hopes, but our parents’ words came back to us: “The more you dare to want, the more you will achieve.”

By the time 2010 came, life’s challenges had begun to catch up with us. We were busy. Our hands were empty hands. It was easier to forget our ambitions when our target date arrived and we met it with empty hands.

In 2011 my brother became engaged, and then, in January 2012, so did I. On the day of my engagement, he remembered what we had planned as children and he began to cry.

“Look, Maryam,” he said, “We have everything now. I have a car, we have degrees, we respect our parents, they are proud of us, we have businesses. We have everything we hoped to have in 2010.

“No, brother,” I answered. “We have achieved this in 2011, not in 2010. We planned for 2010.”

He just hugged me and said, “That’s okay. At least we have all this now.”

We were very happy, yet he was crying for me. I could only tell him that I am a girl. I need to marry and leave my family one day. This is a fact of life. No one can change it. I am grateful to Allah for making our ambitions come true.

By Maryam A.

Photo by Scotfot.