An Afghan's Eulogy for his Mother
Damn this life when I found myself and left you and dad in search of food to survive. Because you didn’t wait to see your farmer son come back to you.
Please, someone should stop the clocks. Someone should ask the dog in the alley not to bark tonight. Someone should go to the street and ask drivers not blow their horns and to drive slowly. I don’t want to hear screeching tires’ sounds. I don’t want birds singing tonight. I don’t want to hear any noises tonight. Please turn off the lights, I want it dark.
I want tonight darkened, I don’t want to see the stars gleaming up there, and someone should be out there to prevent the whiteness of the damned moon too. The moon and the stars are not wanted tonight. Someone should pull them down and pack them and put in the trash. I want everything silent like darkness, like tonight.
For more than a week or so, I have had nightmares. Even taking a nap was full of fighting and bloodshed. Amidst tough exam days, I received a short message from Qasem, my younger brother in Kabul. He had written: “Mom is not feeling well; it has been more than 13 days, she didn’t eat.”
I wrote him back and begged him to connect me with my mom and dad. I wanted to talk to my mom, I wanted to hear her laughter and I wanted to hear her words asking me, when I am going home and telling me that she missed me. I promised her last year to go home and visit her. A week passed. Qasem wrote back to me:
“Nasim Jan, Dad called today. After greeting I asked him how is mom, he became quiet. I asked him again and again: ‘Dad, please tell me how is mom?’ He answered with a broken voice: ‘My son, your mom left us, she is no longer among us.’”
My fingers are numb on the keyboard, I can’t write him back. What should I write? I feel chilly and lethargic. It seems like I was steeped in a mountain of sorrow. No news was ever more devastating to me. I lost my mom, my beloved one; I lost my big supporter who always backed and saved me from dangers.
It is silence instead of smile. Because you are not here. Because you are not calling me and I don’t hear your laugher anymore. You are not asking me over the phone: “My son, come home, I miss you.” Because you left this world. Because life is over, it ends my happiness too and starts a new season, which is sorrow and crying a river.
I remember those days on the farm, when we worked together to feed our herds, you told me: “My son, one day, I want you be a man for yourself.”
Because you didn’t wait to see your farmer son come back to you from college. Mom! You could wait to listen to my stories. Damn this life when I found myself, and I left you and dad in search of food to survive. I remember those days on the farm, when we worked together to feed our herds, you told me: “My son, one day, I want you be a man for yourself.” You could have waited; I wanted to demonstrate how I had fulfilled your wishes.
I remember last year, I came to visit you. The road was closed because of fighting. I took different paths, stretching to mountains and desert and finally to reach you. After four days, I was there with you. I was there once again to refresh my commitments and to tell you I am a man on my own now. Last year, once again, I felt your thick and strong hands which one day held me, caressed me, pulled me up from the ground, left my arms and gave me wings to fly.
My friends were asking me: “How is your mom?” I had only one answer: “She is fine and using her medicine regularly.” In 2004, my mom was suffering from an unknown illness. Finally, in 2005, doctors found out that she had diabetes. Although diabetes is possible to treat, in Afghanistan it is hard and even to some extent it is impossible to cure diabetes.
It was last year in June; to visit her, I went by motorbike after four days and riding 16 hours every day in the mountains, I reached her. No one knew when I arrived in the village. I parked my motorbike in the corner of our old house, started searching from room to room for my mom. I found her sleeping. After taking a few breaths, hesitantly I said: “Salam mom, this is Nasim.”
She woke up, jumped up and hugged me. She was a strong woman, still young, just 60 years old. I released myself in her arms, just like a baby does. We both wept until everyone noticed of my arrival. I have not seen her a lot since I was 12 or 13. I moved out of the village and went to the city. Later I left to Pakistan, Iran and the U.A.E. She was a young and strong woman who worked on the farm. Her dream was that I become a cleric. She was a generous woman and always telling me: “Nasim, if a panhandler knocks on the door, offer him tea, feed him, and don’t let him go away without help.”
She never heard the words of human rights, but by instinct she knew and she taught me to be humanistic.
It is her lesson that I remember in the Philadelphia or D.C train stations; when I see homeless or poor people, her words resonate: “Help poor people. What goes around comes around.” She never heard the words of human rights, but by instinct she knew and she taught me to be humanistic.
In 2006, your son “Hadi” took you to Iran for a pilgrimage to the Imam Reza shrine. Later, when you returned back home, I came home to visit you and I congratulated that for you. Still, you wished to go to Hajj. In 2008, you went with your eldest son “Zahir” to Saudi Arabia for a Mecca pilgrimage. You visited the house of God. Zahir told me that he had doubt about your energy and your ability to move around God’s house. But he was surprised of your energy and your ability. He said: “When mom started walking towards Mecca, I called her a lot but she didn’t hear me.”
You were freed of yourself, you were with your God, and you were godly in that moment. He said that he lost you and searched you for hours and hours. But miraculously, finally, you meet each other. This is was your heavenly sign.
Last year, you asked me to take care of “Qasem,” your smallest and beloved son. I remember I promised you to go back this summer but you are not there anymore! You are not there before the wall, looking down from the hill when I arrive. You are not there anymore to cook for me and tell me: “I want my son to be strong and to become my hero.”
Mom! You didn’t wait for me. I want your demure smile now, your scent and your looks. I want your strong hands to cover my face, I want you telling me your fairy tales like you did in my childhood, I want your encouragement and your support. I feel so weak and unproductive.