A letter to Afghanistan

By Nahid Rauf

My homeland!
Let’s talk forthrightly,
and realistically.
At the end of this conversation, you might get hurt,
and the more you get hurt, the more somber I become.
But you know that, right?

My Afghanistan!
You were never a good home to me, so
how it is possible that you are the peace of my soul?
No matter where my destination was,
school, university, or meeting someone I missed,
I remember my mom’s worried look when we said goodbye.
She didn’t know if I would come back home again,
and neither did I.
You don’t blame us, right?
No one knew the alley or the road where the next bomb would explode.
By the sound of each I wondered,
Who was out there?
Who should I call first:
My dad or my brother?
I was scared, what if they don’t pick up?
Yet is it justice that only those same roads and alleys of you can make me laugh with all my heart and soul?
Though I’ve always hated arid climate, it’s unfair that I find myself irresistibly drawn to your dryness and dusty winds.

But just in one case, allow me to not forgive you,
for the self love you took away from me,
for the times you made me ask myself:
“Was it easier if I was not a girl?”
I can’t ignore how cruel you were to women all the time,
but you ignore that your bloody flag was created by men,

The day of your downfall, I screamed and cried at the top of my lungs,
but now that I’m falling every day, do you miss me at least a little bit? Or not at all?

You left me long ago,
but I didn’t give up on you, like a mother who doesn’t give up on her child.
They say, “Homeland is the mother,” but we both knew this was not true for us.
You were a child to me – a delinquent child that I carried, its pain on my back and its love in my heart.

My dearest!
It has been a while since I moved away from you, to a geography more tame.
You may ask what it looks like here,
and I’ll answer that it’s quiet, safe, rainy,
and you would smile and tell me that you know how much I love the rain.
I work, study, I go out for coffee, I run and ride a bicycle.
My parents don’t worry if I stay out late.
It sounds good right? So why do I cry more every day?
Isn’t it funny, whether I’m close to you or far away, again it is you making me cry?

It was calm today. Clouds went by as I walked in a green park, but I did not feel well at all.
I was thirsty for peace, but the peace here is a stranger to my sore.
Exactly, isn’t it unfair that you are the reason for all my wounds, and at the same time, the reason why I cry of joy?
Are you sure that Mavlana was not thinking about you when he said “The cure for pain is in the pain”?
Because you were the only common point between him and I,

My Afghanistan,
you fell only once, but I fall every night.
We both had no one but ourselves, but how late did we realize this,
We each end up separate:
you a fallen homeland, and I a mother bereaved of her child.

Now that we ended everything by “leaving” and “moving”, let me ask you a question;
Long ago, before it got this far,
couldn’t you love me just a bit?

Your lover,

1 August, 2023