Elay was born in Kabul. Her father and two brothers were taken away by the Communist-led government when she was eleven. Her family lived as refugees in Europe and returned to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. She works on behalf of women’s rights within the Karzai government.
One day, my father was listening to a mullah talk on local radio about the miracle of Islam. The mullah said: “With the order of Allah, the chest of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was opened and the sun came out of his chest, and the angels washed his heart to protect him from committing sin. That is why the Prophet never committed a sin.” When my father heard this, he took pen and paper and wrote an essay that rejected the story.
Shah began living in the mosque with the mullah. He continued to study the Qu’ran and eventually learned it by heart. He also studied other books. The mullah was always there by his side. Shah’s love of learning caused the mullah to establish a small library. The mullah taught Shah, and Shah taught others.
After 10 or 15 minutes, Shah realized he didn’t hear his father’s voice. He slowed and looked back. He couldn’t see his father. He put his hands on his knees, breathing very fast. He was glad his father wasn’t following him anymore, but he was also worried. “What shall I do? If I go back home, my father will punish me and never let me return to the mosque. If I don’t go home, where shall I go? My God, where shall I go?” He continued walking, he didn’t know where.
I looked out the window. The sky was gray; it was a nice, rainy day. The weather was clean and not dusty anymore. I could feel the freshness of the air. I was in my office listening to the sound of rain. I love to listen to water fall; it relaxes me. I smelled the ground and the greens. I leaned back, deep in thought, and closed my eyes, listening to the rain, the rain in Afghanistan. I felt delighted that I was in Kabul enjoying the rain. I was thankful to be in my motherland with my family, friends, and fellow citizens.
Our leaders must stop buying villas in Dubai. Think about your people. Think about those young girls who run away from their homes because their families don’t treat them like human beings. What if this was to happen to your own daughter, sister, mother, or your own wife? Youngsters are the treasure of our country. The future of Afghanistan is in the hands of our youngsters. Give them their rights. Treat them like human beings.
Who can solve these problems? Of course, the government. Who can help government? Of course, we Afghans must start taking action. I make a friendly request to all educated Afghans who live in Western countries to take the initiative. We need educated Afghans to come back to their motherland and help those helpless people. I know life is terrible in Afghanistan. The West is full of luxuries. Afghanistan is a poor country. The lifestyle is underprivileged. But we have to sacrifice for something we adore. If we want to create a safe life for the next generation, we have to sacrifice to come live among our people, take their hands and show them the right way. We have a saying in Afghanistan: “When you are stable and secure, take the hand of the one who has fallen and help him/her to stand up.”
I saw the two armed men standing beside my father’s bed. One removed the blanket from his face, holding the gun in his other hand. The other had a machine gun. Suddenly, he woke up. I will on no account and by no means ever forget his anxious look and worried face. Then his expression changed as if he knew what was going on.
I still remember the winters of my childhood. We spent every winter vacation in Jalalabad, one of the warmest provinces of east Afghanistan. In early mornings, the sky was blue, the sun shining and oranges glowed among green leaves. A smooth wind would blow over the narcissus flowers, spreading the scent of the flowers and of orange trees all over our house. Once the scent washed over me, I couldn’t stay in bed any longer. Then I would notice the sound of someone making nan (bread) in the tandoor (a special oven for baking nan). The smell of fresh nan took me to Paradise. I will never forget those sunny mornings of Jalalabad’s winter.