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Love Letters from Kabul

Dear friends and fellow human beings,

9th May , 2013 ( Gregorian calendar )

20th Saur , 1392 ( Afghan calendar )

From Abdulhai

I can’t quite bear to see the forever-sorrow in my mother.

She walks in a sad way.

Once, I had called from Kabul to speak to her in Bamiyan, and I can’t recall what I had laughed over. She thought I was ridiculing her, despite my explanations of how I would never ridicule her, my widowed mother.

Since then, I’ve been calling her less often because I don’t quite know how to respond to her sadness.

I mean, I myself have a heaviness which sits inside. I used to cry easily as a kid, until I was older.

Last year, when I got angry with Hakim, and I said I wanted to leave the community, it hurt me very much to hear Hakim say, “If you really want to go, you are free to leave.”

Watch ‘Can Abdulhai and Samia be happy in Afghanistan?’


Can you imagine why, like most other Afghans, I sometimes get tired of my feelings?

My mother and I and all, we are all war children.

From Samia

Hakim asked me to describe what makes me happy.

‘Friends and family’ was my answer.

On a wall in the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ house, one of the volunteers, Sadaf, had painted two doves flying away from a cage, into the blue ‘lake’.

I told Hakim this drawing was a happy one. “Why?” Hakim asked.

“The doves are beautiful.”

From Hakim

Part of the loss of human dignity experienced by Afghans is the feeling that no one notices.

Bare mountains, rivers drying up, children with malnourished cheeks, beings under ‘burqas’, chair-less tent schools, fatherlessness, family-less-ness…..and yet, still un-regarded.

I re-print some thoughts I had sometime in 2004 ( italicized below ) , as I crossed over the harsh, no-man’s land from Quetta to Kandahar, learning from Abdulhai whom I met years later that we often walk like we’re in a prison, and that we can be happy when, like the imaginative art offered by doves, we labor daily to be free.

As I was going on foot from the Pakistan Immigration office into Afghanistan, I quietly felt fatigued, wishing for the comforts of home and the company of friends. But we have all taken this road before, venturing past unfamiliar limits and handling uneasy tasks, knowing that while it is ideal to travel together, sometimes, we need to walk a little way on our own.

Near the Pakistan Afghanistan border

Crossing the border

I wanted to shout out loud

As I crossed the border alone

Just so I could hear my voice

Above the bareness of my bones


The lines that divide our hearts

Are a hazy black and white

I can’t tell a right from a lie

Or when a struggle becomes a fight


I remembered the orphan boy Najib

His hard work and his strife

How he took that foreign journey

His mistake or his hope or his life


These zones, these places of nowhere

Can strengthen or cripple our course

Such that when we cross those borders

For a second, our history breathes a pause…

For a moment, I lost my resolve



Abdulhai, Samia and Hakim


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