I see they’ve touched my life in many ways. We’re holding hands. I take my scarf to wipe her face as she has been crying.
I am waking up to a familiar picture. I want to bow down to everything that is around me, in gratitude for what life has taught me. There is this muddy passageway where the children cling onto my clothing, and I cling onto their tiny hands, where women after women cry in a row. They are crying for me. I am crying for them. This was a village in Kabul, the day I had to suddenly leave. I know the pain in departing. There is so much love between people, if only we could see.
I spent 3 months in a narrow 3-storey mud-house, overlooking ATN Hill. Along the whole stretch of muddy pathways, there are houses mounted one on top of each other with narrow stairwells to take us up the different storeys. From guest, I became a family. We would lounge and talk for hours. Some families live in courtyards with a well in the centre to collect water. Almost all have open-aired balconies where the children fly kites and women wash their carpets. Whenever we lost our electricity connection, we would sit out at the balcony with a candle, under the night sky, sometimes peeking to check out what our neighbours were up to.
I spent so much time with each of these families, the women and their children especially. Sometimes people ask me what is life like for an Afghan woman? The more time I spend with them and know and love them as individuals, the more I realize every woman has a different story, has a different history, – I have a tiny bit of sympathy towards them. The rest is admiration for their courage, their dedication towards their children. And I could say the same for the men too.
The man I loved most in Afghanistan was Koko Rabbani. What a kind soul, kind eyes. He was my neighbour, he drove a taxi, and he was also my teacher and my student. We used to learn English sentences together whilst driving. Sometimes when I had hours off between meetings, he would teach me how to tackle Kabul roads – we would drive and drive, eat Afghan french fries, drink Afghan cola. He said I was a light in his life, and he was to me a big sunshine in the mornings. I was always happy to see him. This man would do anything for me. And it showed how greatly humble he was, and how greatly humble he made me become.