Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy New Year 1387 to all Afghans around the world

The blooms blossom on the trees, the deserts are covered with red tulips, nightingales sing in the gardens, swallows fly in the sky and dip down towards the earth to share the feeling they have of spring with the children who play happily or fly kites under the slight drops of spring rain. The snows have already melted and ants are visible everywhere on the earth, beginning to work while delivering the message of arrival of a new season, and a new beginning is visible from many signs.

NOWROZ is on the way, NOWROZ that means THE NEW DAY that is being celebrated continuously for centuries in this land.

Through the radio or televisions, almost everywhere is heard:

“Bia ke borem ba Mazar Mula Mamad Jan, Sayl e gul e lala zaar wa wa dilbar Jan”

Children or adults, young or elderly sing this song during these days.

“Let’s go the Mazar Mullah Mohammad Jan to see the tulips of the northern land oh my darling!”

Of course Mazar e Sharif the capital of the northern land, and the home town of the great poet Rumi, is the main city for the celebration of the New Year Fest. Every year at this time, hundreds of thousands of people come to Mazar from different corners of the country, if there is enough security between the cities.. They want to pass the New Year days in this holy city that is believed to host the shrine of Imam Ali, the Shiite’s first Imam and the Sunni’s fourth Caliph who is the only junction point in between the Shiites and Sunni Muslims of Afghanistan.

And of course as said by the people, Mazar is very beautiful in this season, more beautiful than any other seasons of the year; it is beautiful because there are a lot of tulips in the deserts around the city. It is beautiful because many people from different ethnic backgrounds, of different colors and different provinces get together there to raise the flag of the shrine that is called “JANDA BALAA.” They hug each other very sincerely and friendly and forget any kind of animosity and argument they had during the past year, and commit to begin a new year with new plans.

The shrine of Imam Ali in Mazar e Sharif is the shining jewel of the town. The presence of hundreds of white pigeons in this shrine makes it nicer and presence of people at Nowroz make it the nicest.

We should not forget that after Mazar e Sharif, Kabul is the second biggest place for the “JANDA BALA” celebration of NOWROZ. The SAKHI Pilgrimage in the west of Kabul is also believed to be the passage place of Imam Ali and is located mid-way up Asmayee Mountain. On NOROWZ thousands of people gather there to raise the flag of this religious place and celebrate the New Year that is the beginning of the spring.

Let’s not forget about the HAFT SEEN, that means SEVEN and is seven things usually food (fruits or vegetables) that begins with the letter S on the dining table or dining mat on New Years Day. It is also a very important tradition among the Afghans in the Afghan New Year’s Fest.


While every one is happy and cheering in fine new clothes on New Year’s Day, I wish I would been able to be there among those white pigeons of Mazar e Sharif and among my family members, friends and my people in this important feast, but I can’t.

The only thing I can do is to say Happy New Year from the core of my heart, to my family members, friends, and all homeland fellows. And to pray for them and for peace in my country so that the year 1387 will be full of prosperity and happiness for everyone in my country, Afghanistan.

“Your every day would be Nowroz and your Nowroz would be prosperous!”


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The images of Afghanistan in Italian class

Just a few days ago our Italian teacher explained that the next class when we have grammar we will study conditional sentences, and she brought some examples.Then she asked the students to give some examples with conditional sentences; almost no one was able to make good sentences, as they had not studied it before, but at least it gave us something to think about.

I went out of the class for a while to think. Then I thought, if my country was safe, what I would be doing now? If I were safe back in Kabul how great would it be then? If there was no more threats, how peaceful and joyful the life would be there? If people were not killed any more how sweet life would be then; if it was secure there, how happy the people would be there? If …… if……. if……..if ……….if …………and many more IFs came to mind, but all related to Afghanistan and its situation.

Fallen into deep thought, I was physically present, but mentally and spiritually I was not in the class. My turn came and the teacher asked me to make a sentence with “if.”

Every one was waiting to hear my sentence. For a while I was not sure what to say, because I had not read it before. On the other hand I was out of the class mentally, so I just took the Italian newspaper that I had in my hand at looked at the pictures. There were pictures on the first page, but I turned the pages to find some more. I saw the image of NATO soldiers patrolling in one of the provinces of Afghanistan and I made my sentence.

“If they leave our country, soon there will be no peace”

“Se loro laciano il nostro paese presto, non ci sara pace”

I could not make this sentence properly but mixed it with English. The teacher corrected it and asked me to make another one. Everyone wondered what I meant, and the students around me rushed to look the picture.

Then I looked for other images in the newspaper and saw there was an image of a Ballistic Missile being carried by a Military crane in a parade, I am not sure where it was, but I made my next sentence:

“ If there were not weapons the world would be safer.”

“Se non ci fossero piu armi il monde sarebbe salvo.”

This time again, the teacher corrected my sentence then turned to another student.

After two or three students when my turn came again, I wanted to see the newspaper again and use some images as examples.

This time the teacher told me not to use it, but use an example outside of the newspaper.
Okay maestra! I said, and started to think a bit. Then I made my other sentence:
“If there were no wars in the world, all humans would live peacefully and equally”

And the teacher corrected my sentence like this: Se no ci fassero guerre nel mondo, tutti gli uomani potrebbero vivere felicemente e equamente

Other students again took their turns, but when mine came again, I said:

“If there were not dangers and threats for me in my country, I would not be here today to speak with you in Italian.”

“Se non ci fossero pericoli e minacce per me nel mio paese, io no sarei qui oggi a parlare con voi in Italiano”

With this sentence every one laughed at me except the teacher, instead I could easily notice a tear in the eyes of the teacher, but she did not want to expose it. Instead she smiled and I knew exactly that she pretends to smile, but she has clearly understood what was going on in the mind of a person escaped from a land of wars and death threats.

And she told me to go out and wash my face. “Amin, go and wash your face and come back. Today you made all of your sentences with sad words and sad objects. Think of some other things too.”

Although she said these sentences happily and pretended to be happy, I could understand from her face what she felt after hearing all these words related to war and destruction, because all of my sentences were all about peace and war, crises, weapons, threats, and life and death as if I had just nothing else in my mind except these kinds of words.

At the end the class when every one left the class the teacher told me to wait, and I waited then she turned on the computer and told me to show her my homeland. I went to Google images and typed Kabul- Afghanistan. Many images appeared and she was looking at them very carefully and anxiously. I had to leave for another class.

The next day when I came to class I saw some photos of Kabul on the teacher’s desk. I think the pervious day she had printed them after I left.

That was how she found out about Afghanistan-- through some words and some images.

Edited and Photo by Robert Maier