Today was the 4th of July in America. Every one was so happy. As early as a month before, Americans start getting ready for the celebration. They plan cookouts and picnics and they are very proud of their Independence Day. For me, it is not the same, but I like to see the people gather and celebrate.
All day I walked around the town in America where I have been living and enjoyed the celebrations. But when the fireworks started, the sound was like gunfire. All the fears I had in Afghanistan came back. Every boom reminded me how I spent my entire beautiful childhood in a war, how we hid under the basement stairs, crying and in hopeless fear of the Taliban. The fireworks reminded me of being homeless and fleeing from one place to another to survive.
I remember the day we lost hope. We all knew that we would die soon because our house was very close to the airport. Every explosion shook the house so you couldn’t even sit. We spent the nights in the basement with water and bread to eat if we had any. In the morning when the fighting was quiet for a while we came out and collected debris from our yard and cleaned up the broken glass. When the bombing started again we ran back to the basement and hid. We prayed to God to keep us safe, never mind that we expected to soon be dead. It was hard for my parents to see us children so scared. They didn’t know how to keep us safe from the war.
I am grown up now, but these memories still make me afraid. I feel badly when I see that the situation is still the same in my country, with children experiencing war as I did, losing fathers, mothers, and homes. Even our politics have not changed, always in competition to see who will corrupt the country first. The last election cost the lives of hundreds of people; some had their fingers cut off for voting. Yes, years later, the result is still the same. People are dying in my country like animals. Every day there are explosions, every day blood runs like a river on the streets, every day bodies are everywhere, as if this were normal.
The only thing that can bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan is education and unity. We need to stop blaming each other. We need to stop focusing on each other’s differences. Deep down we are all the same. We must make our country a place where people can live peacefully.
In America people see happiness in their fireworks. They see the symbol of their war won and their freedom earned. They enjoy the colors and smell and the sound of the fireworks, but I don’t. I don’t want to hear the boom of the fireworks, I don’t want to see the bright flash of light or smell the smoke. It all reminds me of a war that I never want to feel again. I am tired of war. I am simply saying – stop the war!
The author is currently a student abroad. Photo by Robert Donovan.