I did not learn how to fight

I did not learn how to fight © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan | Rai

Writing what you feel is not so easy. The reason might be the difficulty of expressing our feelings through dry words. Writing about feelings is not similar to academic writing with a particular format based on a systematic methodology. Feelings do not have a logical sequence. Indeed, they cannot be like that. Instead, feelings are a complex combination of different ideas, experiences and senses. This piece is, therefore, a reflection on what an ordinary Afghan feels about the current uncertain situation of Afghanistan, one which goes back and forth, up and down. It expresses a variety of experiences, feelings, and ideas of one who lives in this uncertain and hopeless situation.

I remember a mythical story of a Simurgh that my parents used to tell me. The Simurgh had three children, but she lived in a place where an evil being used to eat the children of birds. One day when a wise man was crossing a forest, he felt tired and fell asleep under the shadow of a tree. This tree was where the evil being used to devour its prey. While sleeping, the wise man heard three different voices: one continuously crying, the other crying and laughing, and the third only laughing. The wise man woke up and realized that the voices were of the children of a Simurgh. He asked why one of them only cried, the other both cried and laughed, and the third one only laughed. They replied that the one that was only crying would be eaten by the evil being that day so she was sad; the other that both cried and laughed would be consumed by tomorrow, so he was half sad and half happy, and the one that only laughed would be eaten the day after so she was pretty pleased.

I believe the situation of humans living through these times is similar to the mythical story of Simurgh's offspring.

I did not learn how to fight

Some who live in the frontline of the conflict (such as in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and so on) and are being killed everyday have to cry all the time; those who are a little far but not too much, such as in regional countries, both cry and laugh; and those who are far from the conflict laugh all the time.

Although the situation in Afghanistan is quite similar to the situation of Simurgh's children, there is a slight difference as well. The difference is that what others experience in different places and at different times, we, as Afghans, experience simultaneously. In other words, there is not a single day that I, as an Afghan, do not experience all three feelings at the same time. Sometimes, I am happy and only laugh because I have successfully completed my educational journey and graduated from a university in Delhi to make my family and country proud. But when I see the current situation, the only option I have is to cry because it seems that there is no hope in going back at a time when there are attacks across the country. Sometimes I feel both sad and happy simultaneously because of some achievement and hopes or loss and hopelessness. Unlike the children of the Simurgh, there is no need for one to cry, the other to cry and laugh, and the third to laugh. Instead, you can be many in one or one with multiple dimensions, in which you have to cry because you are eaten today. You have to be both happy and sad because you will be eaten by tomorrow, and you have to laugh because you might not be consumed by today or tomorrow but the day after tomorrow, and all of these things happen simultaneously.

I came to India with hopes. After finishing my Master's degree in Sociology, I thought that I would be able to teach Afghan youths and together we could use such knowledge to make our country prosper. I planned to continue my educational journey after a year’s break and complete my Ph.D. abroad. With the beginning of the Intra-Afghan Talks in 2020, I was happy. I hoped we could come together and find a solution for the last decades of conflict in Afghanistan. On the contrary, what happened and what is happening is not in favour of Afghan people like me and our hopes. We lost our hope.

Now, I am repeatedly told that I should not return to Afghanistan because no one can guarantee my safety; therefore, it would be better to stay in India until the situation gets normal. I agree that no one is safe there, and I am also afraid -- of being captured or killed in my village, or by an explosion on the streets of Kabul. But I am also afraid that when those living outside the country do not return and those living inside escape, the situation will not get better. Instead, it will get much worse.

As a result, on the one hand, I cannot escape from the country because the presence of the Afghan youths is necessary there. What matters is our being there, whether we are being killed or can survive. On the other hand, I cannot go and be there because what I have learned does not help the current situation in Afghanistan. What I have learned is to read, write, learn, and teach. What is going on nowadays is a fight for survival. As an Afghan in Delhi, I am going through an uncertain situation where nothing is certain except its uncertainty.

— July 2021

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