I Dind’t Want to Forget

Chapter 10 of Growing Up Untouchable in India by Vasant Moon depicts the sense of honor and pride of Dalits for their flag. I enjoyed reading it as it reminded me of an old experience.

Due to war in Afghanistan, young Afghan refugee generation didn’t know much about their war-torn country. I was one of them. We felt nothing is left to be proud of. We thought Afghanistan was and had always been a piece of worthless land, with no glory, no history. With the country that we had never seen, and now instead of kites or birds, bombs and rockets flew in its sky, how miserable inheritor we were. Taliban were taking the control of most parts of the country, like the black, ominous crows covering the blue sky. Every sign about a bright future for Afghanistan seemed so hopeless that imagining our country free and prosperous filled our heart with heavy grief. But in the summer of 2001 something happened which evoked the love for my country in my heart, this time a love mixed with pride.

My older brother was an active member of Afghan Student Union in Mashhad back then. He brought home some pictures of historical places and natural beauty of Afghanistan, Darul Aman Palace before and after being destroyed, Afghan chidden wearing traditional clothes, and many other pictures that they had displayed in an exhibition in Mashhad. It was the first time I saw something glorious and beautiful about my country, my homeland. I felt proud of it. Something revitalized in me, a lost love. I wanted to share it with other afghan boys and girls in our community, to show them pictures of their country, their vatan. My brother agreed and encouraged me. With help of my sisters, my cousin, and my friend, we made a big poster, stuck the photos on it and added description about each photo. My older sister made the flag of Afghanistan by sewing three pieces of clothe together: black, red, green. It was then that for the first time I touched the flag of my country against my face in quest of smelling my lost identity. Those three symbolic colors generously offered a peaceful moment to my heart as I hugged the flag like a child who seek sanctuary in the warmth of her mother’s arm.

We installed the flag and the poster on the wall of Alzahra Mosque, just to remind other Afghan youths of their motherland and revitalize the love for vatan in their heart, the love that could make them live stronger and hopeful for a better tomorrow.

At the end of that summer, on 11 September, the destruction of two towers in a far land changed the course of history for my country.