When I close my eyes and think of my first memory of this world and my life, Daddy, my grandfather is the star of the memory.

He had taken me to have a look at a train. In the train, was a man cooking food. I asked Daddy why was he cooking so much food. He replied that the man was happy that I had come to visit him. So he was cooking a lot of food.

I remember asking Daddy as to why Peshawar had so many lights on a day in August. He replied that Peshawar was happy to have a visit from me.

Now Peshawar was decorated for the Independence Day and the man in the train was cooking food for the passengers. Daddy however had made me feel so very special. Many years later when I realised the truth, I was not angry with Daddy. He was teaching a very young girl a very important lesson. Make people feel special!

Daddy came to settle me in Dublin. He would talk to everyone in Dublin. He could have a chat with the bus conductor on the bus routes. He could talk to the taxi drivers on the changing world. He could talk to the women in the parks about their dogs. He did not need to know a person to have a conversation.

On reflection he talked as he believed by talking people would come together.

He would always be asking people if they could employ someone he knew.He would always be asking us all for new year diaries and calendars. I wondered why? Well he wanted to help people with jobs. As for diaries and calendars, I guess as he loved writing diary, he wanted others to do the same.

His greatest pride were his grandchildren. If I ever finish my novel, it will be dedicated to Buddo, a character that Daddy invented to narrate stories of goodness to his grandchildren.

Every time I fell from a swing, Daddy would tell me you are my brave girl. You must get up and try it again and smile for you look beautiful smiling.

With tears in my eyes and smile on my face, I would try again and usually succeed. Guess that is when I learnt resilience!


  • June 17, 2017
  • Blogs

I have known Afghanistan for as long as I have known Snow White and Cinderella. I was a little girl when my Grandfather told me of his trips to Afghanistan.

His stories of Afghanistan were mesmerising. Afghanistan to me was a fairy tale but like many fairy tales that I could never visit, I could visit Afghanistan one day. My grandfather promised me one day we will sit in the train and go to Kabul. It was only a few hours away from Peshawar.

As I grew up. People from Afghanistan could be found in Peshawar. Some people liked them. Some did not like them. My Grandfather liked them.

To him they were Pathans like us. So they were one of us. They needed our help. Their country was invaded. They had nowhere to go. The thought of them having no home made me like them.

My Grandfather had many books on Afghanistan. Most of my summer afternoons were spent reading those books. Those books told me of Afghan bravery, resilience and generosity. The fairy tale image of Kabul was affirmed. Just that with a war going on in Afghanistan, the place could not be visited.

As I grew up, Afghanistan went through many accidents and adversities. It came to be considered as the reason for much of the chaos of the world.

A few years back I came across a group of handsome dedicated resilient Afghan men. They had been educated in different countries. They had returned to Afghanistan to contribute to picking up pieces and setting up an accounting profession.

They had a dream. They wanted Afghanistan to be having a vibrant economy. They desired business to be set up and grow. For that they needed professional accountants. They envisaged donor aid coming to Afghanistan to help in rebuilding Afghanistan. Donors would prefer accountants with international qualifications.

They themselves had international qualifications. Selflessly they wanted their countrymen to benefit from their vision. They needed help.

At lest they thought so. In the few years I have known them. Without any help they have overcome insurmountable obstacles to realise their dream. Afghanistan economically is still to grow. Businesses still need to thrive but they have set up the foundation of an accounting profession.

Knowing them have been knowing Afghanistan. I feel very helpless when I think of them. Like them there are millions of people in Afghanistan wanting to live their dreams.

They all have a dream. They all want Afghanistan to be the fairy tale I grew up believing Afghanistan was. They want to get up in the morning without worrying whether they will sleep in the bed again or not. They want their children to grow up.

One of the young men I had come to know in Afghanistan lost his life in the recent bomb blast. He was a teacher dedicated to teaching the next generation. He died, but his dream must not die.

Afghanistan has to be the fairy tale my Grandfather knew of. How will it happen? I know people of Afghanistan want it to happen. If they want it to happen, can others help them to make it happen.

In my lifetime I want to go to Afghanistan. Dreams cannot die. The resilience of people of Afghanistan will make it happen.