My name is Hamid. My country- Afghanistan. My only wish, no I have two wishes-peace in my country and attend school. I am thirteen years old but everyone tells me I look not more than eight or nine ( maybe because of malnourishment). As far as I can remember I am always running, hiding, escaping.
My father Ahmad is forty-five years old but he looks more than sixty. His face is creased with criss cross lines and as dry as paper. He has hollow sunken cheeks and eyes. His hands are rough and calloused and when he holds my hands tightly, it hurts me. My mother Nafisa is thirty-five and is beautiful with wavy long hair and has the bluest of eyes I have ever seen. But I have never seen her smile.
I don’t understand war and conflicts but I know my countrymen have faced a great deal of hardships.My father tells me stories about my beautiful country. Afghanistan means Land of the Afghans or Land of the Pashtuns. It served as a Gateway to India. It is rugged and surrounded by mountains.
My father tells me about the past glory of my country. It was modern and there were many schools, colleges and universities. It was peaceful and there were smiling faces. Kabul, the capital, was the first to witness modernity. Women had more educational opportunities than ever before. Even burqas or hijabs were optional.
My parents are educated. So they teach me, share their knowledge with me. My father informs me that everything changed in the late seventies. There were always fights among the various ethnic groups. One ruler is killed, another replaces and the same cycle continues. The Soviets were the first to enter our country.
There’s no unity in my country. So the outsiders come to maintain peace. Then they take military control of our country. The U.S. also has great interest in my country. But my father says the worst are the Talibans. Everything changed once they arrived. The problems of my country increased multifold. There’s bombing, the sounds reverberating till the mountains.
My country is unsafe now. There are critical levels of kidnappings, hostage taking, suicide bombings, widespread military combat operations, landmines and terrorist and insurgent attacks. The world describes my country as ‘ The worst place to be born.’ But I was born here. My father insists “ We will die here too.”
My father becomes very sad when he talks about my siblings. We were total of five children. My two older brothers disappeared one day. My father doesn’t know if they were abducted or recruited as child soldiers or killed. My father does not like to talk about my sisters. It is traumatic. My mother gets nightmares daily.
I am still safe. My parents watch over me like hawks. I am the reason for their survival. We are constantly searching for a place to hide. Will my wish ever come true? I have hope. There will be peace.
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