Humans Of Kabul: "This Is Our Home"
The Humans Of Kabul
NEW DELHI: Humans Of Kabul is a Facebook page styled along the lines of Humans Of New York, containing portraits and stories of everyday people in Kabul, Afghanistan. As Afghanistan reels from 13 years of war, with civilian casualties rising year by year as the Taliban pushes on with its insurgency, life still goes on.
Here’s a look at some of the recent stories featured on Humans Of Kabul.
"Are you worried at all, if someone comes and blows up the front of this hotel?
"This is our job, to provide security. We are not afraid of anything, that is why we are standing here."
"Can you tell me about the worst day of your life?"
"In 2nd and 3rd grade I did not get 1st position in my class, there were other students who were so intelligent."
"So when your parents found out that you didn't get 1st position in the class, what did they say?"
"My parents do not care about what position me and my siblings get in the class. They are sending us to these after-school education centers to learn things, and they say that this is our business what position we get."
"And what do you want to be when you grow up?"
"A doctor. Now in Afghanistan there are not many good doctors."
"I come from a mixed family. My father is Pashtun and my mother is Tajik, and I enjoy being a mixed Afghan. I actually call myself a pure Afghan, because I love both. So if someone is abusing Pashtuns, I mind this. If someone is saying something bad about Tajiks, I mind it. You know, some of my family members, they are like, 'Hey, your father is Pashtun, why are you not speaking Pashto?' And the other side is like, 'Hey, your mother is Tajik, why are you not speaking in Dari?' What I do, with Pashtuns, is I speak Dari, and with Tajiks, most of the time I speak Pashto, to show them that they also need to learn.
And many people here are like, 'We are from such and such tribe'. I hate that. My father decided not to take his tribe as a last name, and instead he made his own philosophical last name, 'Rawan'. 'Rawan' means 'active and progressing' in Dari and Pashto, like 'moving forward'. So I have also taken this last name."
"If there was one thing you would wish for Afghanistan, what would it be?"
"The most important point is this - our politicians need to work more effectively. They need to develop our country, and they are the people that we have trusted to do this. I just want our politicians to think about the country, and not about themselves. You can see that there are a lot of poor people here. If I were a politician, I would do something about these poor people in the streets."
"And can you think of anything concrete to help with this problem?"
"We need more manufacturing here. If the fathers had jobs, their children would not be begging in the streets. Right now the families are hoping that these kids can bring back enough money so they can eat something at night."
"What was the happiest day of your life?"
"The happiest day of my life was when [Sibghatullah] Mojaddedi became President of Afghanistan."
"Well, what happened after that?"
"Then the Civil War began and everything just got so messed up."
"We were there [at the student protest for Farkhunda] to show that this generation is not going to support everything that other people would like to force on us. We are not that generation. If you try to force, we will stand against it as much as we can. The way Farkhunda stood [against superstitious rituals], every one of us are ready to stand against this type of violence."
"We demand that justice be served to those arrested for this mob murder. There is no violence towards women permitted in Islam, so how could people justify this crime? The mullah at this masjid who engages in sorcery [????? ?????] burned papers and then falsely accused her of burning a Holy Qur'an. Farkhunda was studying in the Faculty of Sharia Law at university in her last semester, why would she burn a Holy Qur'an? I wish that her family may be strong to overcome this horrible tragedy."
"How is business?"
"Prices are high now. When we buy the fruits and vegetables at a high price, we have to sell them at a high price. And people don't buy when the prices are high."
"So what are you going to do during winter?"
"I don't have a job during the winter. Whatever I make now has to last for my family through the whole winter."
"How would you define art?"
"I think art is anything that involves style. If someone can be unique in their personality, that is itself a form of art. People who have style probably don't think of themselves as artists, just as a graffiti artist who loves the work might not think of him or herself as an artist. It's just part of their personality."
“Did you ever live outside of Afghanistan?”
“I was born in Pakistan. My parents became refugees in the early 1990s. After 9/11 happened and the Taliban regime fell, my mother left us for six months to work in Kabul and see what it was like there. When she returned, she told my father that the situation was good enough to return.
When we drove the 15 hours from Monsehra to Kabul, I was crying the entire way. I spoke Urdu and could not speak properly in Dari and Pashto. All my friends were Pakistani and I was culturally Pakistani. When I was growing up we barely talked at all about Afghanistan in our family because there was literally no hope for it at that time.
When we arrived in Kabul, there were lights on in the apartment blocks in Macroyan, and my mother tried to make me feel better by saying, ‘Look at these tall buildings, have you see buildings like this in Monsehra?’ Then I started to feel better. But the next morning when we woke up, we realized that there was no electricity. Sometimes there would be two days in a row without electricity. And we began going out in the city, and there were old and destroyed buildings everywhere.”
“Do you ever question your parents' decision to come back to Afghanistan?”
“No, I do not. When we were living in Pakistan, we may have been comfortable, but we did not have big dreams or expectations for ourselves, since we knew we were immigrants. The opportunities that our Pakistani friends and neighbors had, we never dreamed of having ourselves. I could never have become the person I am today if we had stayed in Pakistan, and I would never have aspired to do the things that I dream of doing now. My mother and father knew this, and they made the decision to move back for us, so that we could have a better future. And now me and my brother and sister are living the future that they imagined for us."