After talking time and again about the problems in our post-conflict society, I feel that I have missed something. I want to take a deep breath and untwist my wings for a flight to my dreams.

I want to take some time to think about my wish to become an astronomer.

Maybe this wish is not just a dream for people in other parts of the world. But here, where there is neither an astronomy major nor an instructor, it seems like a dream.

We believe that dreams are possible and if we believe in the beauty of our dreams, they can become true one day. But unfortunately, we are living in a society where even dreaming is restricted for women. Even in dreams we cannot bravely soar.

I have seen many girls in my country who think men can read their minds, so they never dare to dream for something they want. My character is different, but faces a difficult situation in Afghanistan where women are not used to dreaming free from culture and tradition. I grew up in Iran where there were no limits on dreams.

I am like a hawk, which is always flying in the sky, but once she opens her eyes to reality, she finds herself in a cage. Every night I watch the sky lit by shining stars. As much as I sink into the beauty of it, I feel in fear of its darkness and awe. However, fear does not dissuade me; it makes me more curious.

Our house is located in the hills around Kabul city. The roof of our house is the most fantastic place at night. One side of the roof is surrounded by the mountains, which are like the guards of our city. On the front side I see a snapshot of the whole city lit by bulbs.

When I see the bulbs I wish they were stars, because stars are generous and shine for the anguished hearts of people during the night. Bulbs are in the control of the government and shine to provide occasional power, without attention to the needs of people.

Between the city view and mountains, the azure dome of the mosque in our neighborhood provokes the sense of a peace in me, like the doves that fly around the domes of holy Islamic shrines. These are only my surroundings; I still have not looked above.

When I look above, I see a different world that I wish I was born in. In this saintly place, I feel that I am Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī, a famous astronomer from centuries ago in my hometown of Ghazni.

I don’t know what he could have watched centuries ago, but I know that he loved and felt the sky and he contributed to the science of astronomy. I feel that I am not alone and during some surprising moments while watching the sky, I have a warm conversation with this scientist who is the hero of my life.

I remember the night that I saw a comet and he asked me to wish something and I wished one day I would become an astronomer. I would reconstruct his observatories in Ghazni and resuscitate his memories and dedications.

I wish to become so capable in this major that I would contribute to the development of it in my country once again and grow and expose the talents of this field and show that I am a woman who can dream freely about whatever I want.

Although the ceiling is shorter than my stature, I will not bend, but will continue dreaming and believing in the beauty of my dreams.

By Zainab

An illustration from al-Biruni’s astronomical works, explaining the different phases of the moon. From Wikipedia.