Old Days

When I think of my childhood, I remember the old days
when I was a little girl, with black braided hair like goat horns.
In summer, my five siblings and I would sit on a wooden bed,
the huge bed my father made in the middle of the yard.
First, we threw little rugs on the bed, then fought to get
the best corner. The breeze was our playmate;
she brushed our faces, cooled our hearts,
slapped the mosquitoes and flies.
Like a scented friend, it carried the aroma of
flowers and wheat from farther fields.
Our house, in a vast meadow with a few other houses,
was a little flower in a bare garden, but we didn’t
feel alone; God was also our neighbor.

We laughed on the wooden bed, drank black tea,
and played with marbles as our white dog jumped happily,
circling the bed like a sacred shrine. Rolling on the dusty ground
like it was a sheet of velvet, I loved her small puppies.
I played with them, swirling them around by
their little paws and bursting into laughter.
They were like balls of cotton and I kissed their paws and
caressed them with love.
Some neighbors said, “Dogs are Najis, filthy.”
But I treasured them.
They played with us, they protected our house,
barking at strangers and enemies,
their yelps small and screechy, but their will was strong.
How could anyone call them “unclean”?
They were little angels. God wouldn’t create filthy things.

Sometimes we didn’t have bread in the house,
I was hungry, so mother gave me a piece of dried bread, and said
“Share it with the dog. She is also hungry.”
Her kindness reminds me of when she cooked okra with Kichiri,
We sat on the wooden bed and we ate in the moonlight.
We didn’t have electricity, but our hearts were bright and happy.
As we laughed, our teeth shined with the stars. We
named the stars to own them. With my eyes like a basket,
I picked them and then they escaped from my eyes and entered my heart.
In my best childhood memory we were all together,
me, my siblings, mother and father,
when we weren’t broken by war, or separated,
each thrown to a corner of the earth.
I was happiest then. With free minds and happy hearts,
we laughed together and adored simple things.
On the wooden bed we were kings and queens.

The above has been reprinted with permission from awwproject.org.


Imagine you have a story to tell. It is a story about hope, loss, tragedy and courage. It’s your story. Now imagine trying to write this story having grown up in a country where education was denied to you, where telling your story has been criminalized. And then picture writing it in a second language.

The women of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, some not even teenagers yet, are doing exactly this: fighting to tell their stories. Despite the risks, these developing writers are driven by the need to share their voice.

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In just over a decade, he created about 2,100 works of art, including around 860 oil paintings. His work is characterized by bold colors and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. Despite his fame today, he was not commercially successful, and his suicide at 37 followed years of mental illness and poverty. Source: Wikipedia.