by Tahara Baheri
This week our author has been thinking a lot about her father, whom she has not seen in a while. A text about fathers and daughters.
When I was six years old, girls and women in Afghanistan were not allowed to go to school. They could only attend lessons in a mosque. Afghanistan was still very conservative. Women and girls were expected to stay home.
My father, however, wanted us to think for ourselves. He studied in Russia and was hoping for more liberal times. My father is a doctor. At the time he could not practice his profession, so instead he had a small bookshop.
For me, my father, is the best father in the world. He has a little mustache, dark skin and, as my brother and me, honey-colored eyes and bushy eyebrows. With the little money that he earned in his bookstore, he hired a private teacher for my sister and I. We had to keep that in secret.
We had to hide our books
Every afternoon, my sister and I were walking into the apartment of our teacher. I was very young. We had to wear long dresses and headscarves. Our first teacher was young and beautiful. She was married but had no children. I liked her apartment, because in her wardrobe you could find many figures and dolls.
We hid our textbooks in religious books. Besides us, there were also three other girls coming to the teacher. Every day after coming home after lessons, my father and grandmother argued. She thought it was not good that he wanted us to learn. “Haram” she said. My father was always laughing but never said anything. My father has done everything so that we would not grow up ignorant and inexperienced.
Baba brings buns
I have read learned sentences like: “B like Baba” and “Baba brings buns”. When we were learning , we did not understand how hard our father worked for bread.
Very often he came home as late as 7 pm. My mother always brought him something to eat, then we were sitting all together and discussed what we did during the day. He always watched news between 7 and 8 pm. Then we were watching series which my mother liked. But because she was so tired, she fell asleep usually after ten minutes on my father’s shoulders.
For the last time, I have seen my father in winter, 2015. I do not know which month. At that time, we fled from Afghanistan, but at the border it turned out that we didn’t bring enough money, so that entire family could leave the country. This is what the smugglers told my father:
ما فقط بخاطر پول كار ميكنيم
“We only work for money”
انسانيت به آدم پول نميدهد
”Humanity does not pay us.”
عجله كنيد ما وقت نداريم
“Faster, we don’t have time”
يا پول يا برگشت
“Money or go back”
My father told my mother: “Do not cry because then I also can no longer hold back my tears.” He hugged us, his children, and said that we must always take care of ourselves and our mother. He said we have to keep together. That we should always learn a lot and remember why we had to flee. He has said that we must be good people.
My father could go back with all of us, but instead he decided otherwise. He wanted a peaceful life for us. However now, he is lonely.
Since that day, I hate money.
Today I am 6656 km away from my father.
I haven’t seen him for nearly eighteen months.. I know that he is healthy. I know that every evening he looks into the same sky, just as me. As long as I know that he lives and breathes as long as I hope I can hug him again one day, can tell him how much I love him , it’s enough.