Back by popular demand, The Dailies is proud to present today's guest blogger, Wajh.
So Katie has asked me to be her guest blogger…that is wonderful! I thought and I thought and I didn’t know what to write about. First I thought I could write about running because let’s just be honest, running has helped me through the toughest times in my life. Then, I thought, “well, Katie’s got that avenue pretty covered.” Basically, there wasn’t much more I could add. So, then finally, I decided to just write about one of my earliest memories in Afghanistan…one of my birthdays. So here goes….
My mother was a teacher in Afghanistan. She only taught the morning shift (8-12) and would be home by 1 p.m. My grandmother and housekeeper usually babysat my sisters and I, while she was out teaching. We were pretty well off at that time and really my mom didn’t have to work. But, in order to have her own independence and promote women’s freedom, she chose to work. Anyhow, she would be at work. We would be home and weren’t allowed to go out and play. Around 3:30 p.m. every afternoon, she allowed us to go outside and play with the other neighborhood kids. Rain or shine…snow or wind…we would run outside at that time, find our friends and play until we heard a faint voice from our balcony, “Nabila, Wajhma…come home, your father will be home soon.” We would rush back home and get washed up for dinner. This was our everyday routine. Everyday we had to ask permission to go out and play at the same exact time and we had to come back home exactly an hour later. One day, I walked out to play with my friends. I approached them and wanted to say hello and see what game they wanted me to play. For whatever reason that day, they did not want to play with me. I remember asking Azeeta why she didn’t want to play and I got the silent treatment. I didn’t understand. I was so confused and in my little life span of five years, I felt so hurt. So, my lips curled down and my tears rushed down my cheeks, uncontrollably. I put my head down and ran home. I slammed the door shut. My mom came running to the hallway and asked if I was okay. She sat on the floor so that we were eye level and wiped my tears. I told her what had happened and I felt so sad about it. She calmed me down, washed my face and said, “I have an idea.” So we went in my closet and pulled out my green maxi dress. She smiled and said, “I’m going to put this on my daughter because it’s her birthday today.” Culturally, Afghans didn't used to celebrate birthdays regularly. At that point I didn't even know it was my birthday. But, I do remember feeling so happy! I jumped up and down at least a thousand times with excitement. As she put the dress on, my eyes widened as much as they could and my smile could not get wider. She then brushed my hair into a half pony tail with a white ribbon and left some wisps on the sides. Oh wow..what a moment that was!!! I will never forget it. I felt like a princess. She then said, now go outside and invite your friends to come over for your Birthday. I didn’t ask any questions, I carefully ran down three flights of stairs to the huge green field in front of our house. At one point, I think I stopped on the field and twirled around. That field was our sanctuary. It was where all the kids in our block would gather and play for hours on end. It was our territory and no one could take that away from us...so we thought. Anyhow, as I jumped, walked and twirled on the lush green field, all my friends gathered around me and asked me where I was going. I smiled and said, It’s my birthday. My mom said you have to come over for my birthday party. By five o’clock, my dad walked into our formal living room with a handful of five year olds. I remember dancing and laughing. I remember cake and pure happiness. That night, with a smile on my face, I fell asleep with my green dress and white shoes. A couple of days later, a coup de tat occurred. The Russians were taking over the country. We saw jets streaming above our home with roaring sounds. Rockets and bullets were being fired and were heard throughout Kabul. I remember standing in our balcony and looking out at the once lush green field that looked gloomy and gray. We were not allowed to go out and play anymore. I missed my friends. Soon, I would hear that most of my friends had fled the country with their families. I didn’t know what that meant. Thinking back now, that was the last time I celebrated my birthday in Afghanistan. It was the last time I twirled with my green dress on that field and it was the last time I saw some of my friends. I wonder where they are today….