“Love letters from Kabul – on a fairer world”

A fairer life for all


Dear friends and fellow human beings,

15th February, 2013 ( Gregorian calendar )

27th Dalw, 1391 ( Afghan calendar )

From Abdulhai

My grandmother was one of my best friends in the world. When she was alive, she told me, “Please plant trees.” I asked her, “Why?” She asked ,”Why did your father plant trees?”

When I go to my village, I see many trees and I remember my grandmother’s world.

One morning, I saw my grandmother with a smile on her face. That smile had dreams, the dreams for a better world and the dream for a green place where doves fly over the green trees.

On another morning, she had a spade in her hand and she went to water the trees. Later, she came home. Her granddaughter brought tea for her.

She said that helping others is praying. Life for her was suffering, the suffering that made her heart cry. But we could see hope in her eyes, hope for the new generation.

Nao Roz ( the Afghan New Year ) came. She went to sit beside the river.

The river asked her,”What do you want for the New Year?” She told the river about her hope for the New Year. “I want to die.”

The river could see love and truth on her face. The river did not accept her answer and asked, “What else do you want for the New Year?”

My grandmother smiled, ”I want oranges for the New Year.”

The river called the blue sky, “Please go to the city to bring oranges for grandmother.”

Grandmother was very happy. The blue sky was my oldest brother, Khamad, and the river was my friend Hakim.

A few months later, she died with a smile and a dream for a better world.

Abdulhai, Hakim and Khamad

with oranges

From Samia

The other morning, my funny brother, Rohullah, told us that he can help us learn the Dari alphabet, but that he would like us to organize a classroom in our home and to get a whiteboard. He then said with all seriousness, “I will charge all of you 10 Afghanis ( 20 U.S. cents ) per month for the lessons.”

Walina said, “That’s not fair!”

I laughed so hard.

Poor people have a different sense of what a fair world is.

Walina claimed that she would learn better if she was threatened with punishment, like being hit by a ruler. I knew she didn’t mean it, because even children like us know that we’re far happier learning through patient and kind teachers.

Watch ‘Samia on not learning through punishment’

From Hakim

Things can get fairer, though only after exercising ‘unbearable’ patience.

A few evenings ago, Abdulhai was visibly discouraged over personal and community problems, but couldn’t quite pin down the roots of his un-happiness. He curled up beneath his cozy duvet, and shielded himself from the harsh Afghan night outside.

Various irritations had piled up for Abdulhai.

I felt useless yet again in the presence of another human being.

Where is the music of the better world we seek?

I did the little bit I knew to do. Bending over Abdulhai’s retreating self, I patted him on his shoulders and offered a dream, “It’ll be better tomorrow.”

 ‘Sacred norms’, like the laws that kept black African Americans living as slaves or laws that left women out from voting, do change, but not overnight.

I slept, burdened by impatience.

I wished for Abdulhai’s night to turn into day. “The change we both long for will come. It will come with the light-hearted resilience of children, men and women who wake up each day to work for a better world.”

Abdulhai awakening to resilience,

from under a duvet


Abdulhai, Samia and Hakim

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