Moments with Grandma

elderly woman portrait

In Afghanistan, the old women know many legendary tales and stories that they learned from their grandparents. I was always excited to hear my Grandma’s stories and listen to her beautiful, sweet voice.

My siblings and I would sit around her to hear a story. Her strong voice kept us awake, and her sweet laugh made us laugh out loud. Although she told us all the stories she knew, we wanted to hear them over and over. The Fairytale and the Devil‘s story was a famous one about a fairy creature living in a mountain who is kidnapped by a devil. I heard it from my grandma more than ten times, but still wanted to hear. She was happy to repeat it for us.

She was my first teacher who taught me the basic rules of Islam. She put the Prophet and imams’ names in the form of a poem, which made them interesting and easy for me to remember. She memorized many classic poets such as Hafiz Shirazi, Rumi, and the char ketab, a collection of rhythmic Persian poems.

When we would go outside to the trees every evening to gather almonds and walnuts, she recited Hafiz’s poems along the way and I walked by her side.

In our village we had a big walnut tree, which was very tall and huge and the village children would surround us every day to ask for walnuts. “Ajay jan (Dear Grandma), please give us some walnuts. We promise not to come anymore.”

They would make my Grandma laugh by flattering her. She never could get angry with them and they came every day with a new strategy to get walnuts from us.

We would have lunch on the grass underneath the walnut tree: a thermos of black tea, fresh bread with walnuts, and much joy and happiness.

The weekend was a great time to spend with Grandma and listen to her beautiful stories, classic Hazaragi poems, and to play some games like shir boz (lion and goat) or hide and seek. In the afternoon, the other children joined us too. We sang and played while Grandma knitted socks for winter.

But my Grandma left me without saying goodbye. She doesn’t tell me stories anymore, doesn’t recite Hafiz and Rumi’s poems. Her Quran and prayer rugs are still here, not touched for five months. Maybe we don’t believe that she is not coming back. She liked to wear simple clothes with dark colors and she used to wear a purple chadar, a big scarf. I wish she could wear her new clothes that she made for Nowruz (New Year).

There is always a deep relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. My Grandma was a huge supporter of her grandchildren, and her advice was important to me. By telling stories she wanted her grandchildren to know how important it is for human beings to be united because no one will be able to break you down.

I miss her nice words, her smiling face, and her place is empty in my house. Her words, full of concern, still ring in my ears: “Take care of yourself. The situation is not good, don’t be late.”

By Kamilah


  1. I love this essay very much. The image of you having lunch, with the tea and bread and walnuts, will stay with me a long time. I am so happy that you had her love and guidance in your life. I know that you will continue to “take care of yourself.” Stacy

  2. Meena.H says:

    You reminded me , my grandma, whom I loved the most. I still visit her grave yard usually when I am depressed…

    My god bless her & her soul remains in peace.

  3. Dear Kamilah,
    What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. I’m a grandmother of 8 myself and your essay reminded me again what an important role this is. You have many gifts from your grandmother.
    One big one is that, when it is time, you will know how to be a wonderful grandmother.

  4. Dear Kamilah,
    I want to thank you for your story. It has already touched many hearts. I teach English to students in Ukraine. Today a student and I read your story together. (I was sitting in America, my student was sitting in Ukraine and we were reading a story from Afghanistan. How wonderful!) My student was so glad to read about your family and said it was a story that anyone in the world could understand and feel. Thank you!

  5. Kamilah says:

    Thank you very much from your nice comments. @Dear Jeannie, I am very HAPPY that you and your student liked the story of my Grandma. I wish you much success.

    Thank you very much,

  6. Stephanie Hayes says:

    This reminded me so much of my own Grammy, who was from Maine and no doubt had a very different life from your own grandmother. However, the feelings between grandmother and granddaughter are the same, as is the sense of loss now that she is gone. This was a lovely story.

  7. Dear Kamilah,
    I must appreciate the way you Described such a Beautiful Relation. I certainly Loved every Part of your Article and It reminded me of my two Lovely Grandmother’s as well though they are always in my Heart and can never be Forgotten. From the Amazing Piece of writing it can easily be concluded that your Grandma was such a Great and Wonderful Lady. May her Soul Rest in Peace and May God(Allah) Bless you and the Rest of your Family!

  8. Elizabeth Titus says:

    Dear Kamilah,
    A beautiful story! I love the image of the giant walnut tree and the kids begging for walnuts. Also, I have just read And the Mountains Echoed with its descriptions of stories passed down the generations.
    I look forward to more of your writing,

  9. Kamilah, I loved reading your story. It reminded me of my grandfather and the stories he used to tell and my grandmother’s beautiful, calm, strong presence. Thank you for bringing these memories back. Your grandmother sounded wonderful, and I wish I had heard her tell “The Fairytale and the Devil‘s story” (it sounds amazing), and heard Hafiz and Rumi in her voice. Your story had such humour and love, thank you for sharing it!

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