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The Lost Paradise
A dove flies in a land filled with war and unrest
Afghanistan was once a progressing nation were people enjoyed same liberty like any other nation but due to war and series, of unfortunate events which changed the face of this nation forever. Everyone's dream turned into ashes. Many lost their lives fighting for freedom. People of this nation enjoyed many privileges but now they live in fear to express their basic rights. For how long this nation will suffer without seeing light. You will see how a beautiful nation plunged into a dark world without hope and justice.
Girls discussing their Homework
It was 1 September 1979 16-year-old Tahiba Rushid was walking with her best friends to attend Jamid Mirza school in Kabul. Her father a businessman used to drop his daughter to school every day and drive his way back to work. Tahiba as taken science as her major. She and her friends went to the second floor of the school building and occupied their respective seats. It was co-education where boys sit on one side and girls occupied the other side of the room. Since it will take some time for the teacher to attend, the boys were making lots of noise and making fun of girls. The girls kept their laugh to themselves and discussed their homework given by the Chemistry teacher.
Soon a female teacher entered the room. Everyone stood up and there was pin drop silence. One of the boys called Abdul Hakeem made a monkey face at the girls. Tahiba unable to control giggled a bit and covered her smile with her hand. The teacher noticed her reaction and called her to come forward. She asked Tahiba “What excitement happening inside your head.” She said, “Nothing teacher I was just feeling a sneeze.” The boy who was responsible for this commotion was scared and his heart was beating rapidly that Tahiba will point him out to the teacher, but luckily Tahiba quick thinking saved the boy from possible punishment. Then Teacher looked at Tahiba seriously and then she turned towards the class and asked everyone whether they have completed the task she as assigned to them last week
Stern teacher asks everyone whether they have completed their assignment
The girls dutifully did their homework. Some of the boys were caught for failing to finish the given assignment. They were taken to the principal room who scolded them and warned them that “If you people continue to fail in your studies and not pay proper attention to the teachers. Then next time your parents will be called to give a proper explanation for your attitude and behavior. Hope you all will mend your ways and take studies seriously.” Later the teacher returned back and covered few chapters in chemistry, soon the bell rang and she left the class to attend the next section. Abdul Hakeem thanked Tahiba for saving him from trouble. She smiled and said, “You better be careful from now onwards or we both will be in trouble.”
The whole day was full of secret smiles and studies. Finally, it was time to go home. Again her father will pick her up and drive home. Being an independent businessman he got time in his hand to reach his daughter whenever he wished. He was always concerned about his daughter’s safety. They reached their house which was not too far away from her school. Tahiba had an elder brother called Amar who never went to school. He was completely traditional and will come home very late at night after taking care of his father’s business. Life in Afghanistan was beautiful and simple. Her mother was a housewife. Tahiba had her own collection of western music which she used to play on tape recorder regularly.
Afghan official announcing the possible war between them and Soviet
Life is full of dance and fun for Tahiba. After finishing her High school she planned to do medical engineering. One day on 1 December 1979, while watching her favorite movie in the evening. Suddenly a breaking transmission interrupted the program. A government official speaks in a tense voice announcing that “Our country is under attack by the Soviet. Take care of your children and belongings. We will come back with more update about the progress of the war. Thank you for your time. Then the television goes blank. Tahiba parents were completely shocked and least prepared for such an event. They switched the radio on to hear any news but all they heard is empty buzzing noise. Her brother Amar said “God his by our side we will win the war. No need to panic.” Tahiba father said, “We have to stay inside our house for some days and save all the provision.”
Their neighbor’s joined them. All were very worried and terrified and talked about the possibility of war not taking place. At night everyone switched the lights off and kept few candles to avoid being targeted by the Soviet forces. Soon it was 5 December 1979 an unfortunate day for Afghanistan and it was also a day where everyone will experience peace in their life for the last time. Everyone saw a large group of Soviet soldiers entering their territory with guns, tanks, and helicopters. The Soviets defeated and imprisoned many Afghanistan soldiers. One of the Soviet soldiers leading the group shouted with a speaker in his hand “Everything will be fine as long as you co-operate with us." Tahiba family shut every door and window to their house. These soldiers stayed for months. They will come to many houses for food and water. Tahiba family in the name of humanity helped some of the soldiers.
Young Soviet soldier who didn't have a heart for violence
Her father and brother resumed their business except for Tahiba and her mother who continued to stay at home along with neighbor’s women. The Soviet soldiers were minding their own business and didn’t seem to be a threat to the civilians. Tahiba soon made friends with one of the soldiers named Vyacheslav and he gave her some chocolates. Tahiba asked him what can be the reason to be here. Vyacheslav replied “I don’t know young lady. I am just following the orders from my superiors. I don’t care for what’s happening here. I don’t mind you people getting your freedom back” She looked into his eye and saw that he didn’t have a heart for violence.
The Soviet took control of all kind of communication center thus removing the only voice of Afghanistan. Next day while the Soviet soldiers doing their regular patrol at night. Suddenly several hundred Mujahideen force silently sneaked inside and hiding behind the walls. Took positions and aimed at Soviet soldiers and started firing. All the civilians got confused and everyone rushed to their house. Tahiba family safe inside the house heard several gunshots and blast of grenades. She sat in one corner of the house and closed her ears tightly. She can hear many men shouting. Soon it became early morning and it was very quiet. Tahiba father peeked into the hole of a window and saw Soviet soldiers looking calm and relaxed. Some seriously wounded soldiers were being treated. Finally, they came out to get some fresh air. Tahiba noticed the lifeless body of young Vyacheslav near her house. Tears rolled down her cheeks since she lost the only kind person.
Tahiba mother cries over the loss of her son
Many Mujahideen were captured and taken away as a prisoner by the Soviet soldier. One of the prisoners looked at the family and shouted “Don’t just stand there waiting for God to protect you. This is our homeland fight them till your last breath.” Tahiba father filled with pain on his face knowing that these prisoners will be tortured and face certain death. Then he said, “Let's go back inside.” Amar said “The Mujahideen words are right. I should join them and fight for our nation. His father being wise wanted to discourage him and said “Son the Soviet are powerful. They can easily outnumber us. It is not a brave thing to fight them.” Amar shouted in anger “What else we will do.” Tahiba switched the television on. It showed a Soviet official addressing the nation “Dear people of Afghanistan we are here with the aim to make your nation a better one. All we ask you is to have trust and faith on us. We are not here for war but to unite has one nation.” Amar cursed them Saying “We will never live as one”
The civilians soon stopped helping the Soviet soldiers since the Soviet soldiers got food supplies and medical support dropped from helicopters. They created their own camp base with strong high raised walls with a thick barbed fence surrounded by spotlights everywhere. Tahiba father soon lost his business but still had enough money to support his family. When they ran out of money they turned to Soviet soldiers to help them. The Soviet-provided food and cloth to everyone. One night Tahiba brother disappeared without a trace. Amar mother cried “My son has left us to join the Mujahideen and he will not survive.” Tahiba father comforted her and said, “be strong and don’t cry God his watching over him.”
Tahiba turns 22
Now the year is 18 June 1984. Tahiba turned 22. One day while going to market she happens to meet Abdul Hakeem who immediately recognized Tahiba as the girl from his schooling days. They both got excited and spoke about their good days. He said “I live very close by. I don’t have parents but I live with my old uncle taking care of his farm. Soon both fell in love. Later Abdul approached Tahiba parents and spoke about his intention to marry his daughter. Tahiba father was a liberal minded person, He took Abdul aside and said “I welcome you as my son in law but be faithful to my daughter. I brought her up with great care. Will you keep this promise?” Abdul kissed his hands and said “I will never let your daughter fall under any suffering. This I can assure you.”Soon the wedding took place with limited people.
Few years passed. Afghanistan as became a war-ravaged nation. People got accustomed to constant fights. Tahiba house now riddled with bullet marks and shattered windows. One day they found a child sitting and crying close to their house. Abdul quickly covered the child and ran back to the house. Tahiba family adopted the one-year-old girl and called her Nisha since the child parents died while accidentally got caught between crossfires. Tahiba mother was pleased to have a new child as a compensation for the loss of her son Amar. Tahiba lifted the child with joy and said "I will train you to talk in English" and showed some old books filled with pictures.
Tahiba begs the Iran official to give refuge for the sake of her sister Nisha
By now the Mujahideen have become stronger. They changed drastically from fighting Soviet forces to imposing strict laws on everyone. Taking most of the basic rights of the woman and discouraging girl child from getting any education. Abdul commemorated about the thought of moving to Iran and start a fresh life over there. He discussed this with some of his neighbors. "Iran will be our safe haven for us there is no meaning in continuing our life like this" Said Abdul. He soon had a talk with his father in law and said: “I wish we leave for Iran so that we can have a better future.” Tahiba father said” I am a dying man and too old to do long distance traveling but I give all my blessing to your family. Don’t worry about me my days are over.”
On 16 August 1989 finally the day to part came. Tahiba mother kissed on her forehead and said” Daughter you will see real life from now onwards. My blessing will stay with you forever.” After a tearful farewell, Tahiba started her journey. It was not an easy thing to move from Kabul to Iran since their airport was destroyed during the war. They have to take many trucks filled with people for the journey. The Soviet didn’t stop them from moving away since they were only interested in occupying the land of Afghanistan. The family along with others people continued to travel many dangerous roads and rough hills. It took one month to reach the border of Iran. The securities of Iran refused to let them go any further. Tahiba cried and pleaded a lot. She showed her adopted sister Nisha to consider their situation. The officials finally said “We can only arrange a camp near the border. Your men should work for various construction projects in our country. We will supply food and medicine.” Abdul Hakeem quickly agreed to this condition to support his family.
Back to Afghan a nightmare for Tahiba and her family
Four Years passed still Tahiba family was not recognized as citizens and also not allowed to move inside the heart of Iran. Soon they made enough money to move to an old apartment. Her adopted sister Nisha, who by now turned four, attended a school ran by Iran officials. Life was becoming a little bit normal. Tahiba used to tell Nisha about how beautiful her homeland used to be before the war which now only exists in once memory. Abdul after spending whole day constructing houses and buildings will come home very tired. Nisha will welcome with her smile and Tahiba will prepare a warm dinner. Abdul said, “I was dreaming of becoming a pilot in the army but all my dreams are ruined.” Tahiba said, “You never told me about this before.” “What’s the point of talking about it?.” Answered Abdul
One day on 13 December 1992 Iran officials entered their house and said "We are randomly disposing some of the refugees back to their homeland due to increase in refugees we are not able to support all of them. Anyone, who are staying here for less than seven years are not eligible to continue further in Iran, by the order of the government we will give you three weeks’ time to pack your belonging and leave this country." This was a great shock to the family. The Soviet war with Afghan is over. Now it is a land plagued by terrible Taliban’s cruel rule and their loathsome practice of executing humans for trivial issues.
Kind old man gives shelter to Tahiba and her family
Three weeks passed. The officials had their men move all their belongings to a truck. They settled all the due money to Abdul. The officials said “We are very sorry to see your state. But we have no choice but to follow the government policy.” Tahiba and her family prepared for the dreaded journey back to Afghanistan. Nisha was young and innocent she didn’t understand what the new land would look like. When they arrived back to Kabul they saw many men giving a scornful look at them and all women are completely in veils sitting outside their house. All trace of school and education completely wiped out. Art and music strictly prohibited. Abdul murmured to Tahiba “What sins we did in our previous life that we have to suffer like this.” They approached Tahiba house which was now in ruins and reduced to few pillars of the wall still supporting some roof of the building. Tahiba cried “What calamity as fallen over my parents.”
Now stranded without a house and living in a land filled with barbaric men. Their future looked pretty grim. One old man approached them and said "Please come to my house. You look new here." He showed them his small house. It was completely deserted. “You see I stay all by myself and I don’t see it as a problem to invite new people.” Abdul thanked the old man for his generosity. The old man said, “I own 10 camels and sell their milk to support myself.” He added “Please tell your wife to wear a burka or else the Taliban’s will whip her hundred times. I am an old man this very land used to be humble paradise once when I was a little boy. I lived all my life here I saw the war and everything change over time. I will not live long enough to see this land prosper back to its former self. But I pray for my children that they will have a better future one day”
Tahiba soon started wearing burka not even her ankle should be revealed. Nisha still being a girl wore a headscarf. She asked Tahiba “No school for me anymore. What should I do?” Tahiba with tears in her eyes said: “There are lots of other children to play with you.” The young boys are the only one who still smiled and ran around with free will, unlike the adult men. Abdul said “What exactly the Taliban are trying to achieve? Make us look like some sort of primitive people still learning to make fire." Tahiba said “You are correct. That’s what they are following faithfully.” Abdul said, “The world should know what’s going on here and they should save our people from the wicked rule of Talibans.”
Innocent Nisha yet to know the real world
At night with only a lamp to illuminate the house, the old man sat next to Nisha looking at the mountains with his failing eyes and told her some long forgotten tale told by his great great grandfather.
Long ago there lived a boy and his name was Ali. One day he tried to steal some fruits from a fruit vendor. Unfortunately, the vendor caught the boy in the action and he punished the boy by making him stand on the top of a wall the whole day in the hot sun. When it became evening the vendor gave him some fruits to eat. The boy was very angry at the vendor for being so hard towards him. He cursed the vendor and said, “You will die soon and live as a ghost forever.” The next day the vendor died of heart attack and became a ghost. He searched for the boy to ask for forgiveness so that he can rest in heaven peacefully but unfortunately, the boy too died by drowning while trying to take a bath in a lake. Now the vendor was left to haunt the world of the living forever. Being a ghost he sat on a tree and began to throw fruits from the tree at the passer-by at night. He became a public menace. People brought a holy priest to get rid of the ghost. They soon found a priest who promised them that he can kick the ghost away from our world. The priest climbed the tree and sat next to the ghost while other people shivered in fear. The priest asked the ghost “What sin you have committed that you are haunting our world.” The ghost told his sad tale of how he punished a boy and got cursed for his cruel action. The priest asked for the name of the boy. The Ghost said, “I am not able to remember the name.” The priest said, “Be kind to children and God will forgive you and send you back to heaven.” For the next ten years he showed great love and care for the children but they all ran away due to fear of ghost. One day he remembered the name of the boy and shouted: “Ali will you forgive me.” “Never, ” said the voice from heaven. This time the priest came back knowing the name of the boy he summoned the spirit of Ali and threatened him to forgive the poor fruit vendor or he will be under his control forever. Ali cried and at once he forgave the fruit vendor. Finally, the vendor disappeared peacefully. The priest became happy and let the boy return back to heaven. That’s the end of the story.
Nisha laughed at the story and said “Grandpa you are an excellent storyteller. I will never be bored.” The old man said “Child I have thousand tales to tell you. Now it is getting late go to your bed dear.” Nisha ran to her bed and slept peacefully.
World of Taliban's
The Taliban life is all about fighting and live with men surrounded with the guns. They thought they are the ultimate people of the world and it is important to guide the innocent civilians. Every day looked same in Afghanistan without music and art for recreation. The women were treated secondary to men. They should not be educated and make any sort of decision other than staying at home. The women’s secretly hated the world of Taliban’s inside their mind but always lived in fear of them. The Taliban’s simply execute anyone even for not bowing in front of them. Even the young boys didn’t attend any school instead they were given the rifle to practice. The Taliban’s supreme leader aim was to get rid of anyone who doesn’t go well with their philosophy of living. The Taliban’s tried to spread other countries but with little success since they were well guarded.
For Tahiba and Abdul Hakeem life was frightening with Taliban’s roaming with guns but inside the house, they will talk in English so that they will not forget that they once belonged to a well-civilized nation. They will make humorous remarks at Taliban’s and when they are outside they will keep their lips sealed. Tahibha protested “How long this kind of life will continue.” Abdul said “We don’t have any option. I am only concerned about Nisha’s future. I don’t want her to go backward in time and end up marrying a guy who only knows to handle guns."
Children learning under Abdul Hakeem
Abdul tried to open a small school for children. Some 26 kids attended the school. Only boys were allowed to study but Nisha was secretly taught to read and write inside her house. The Taliban’s will check the school from time to time and said “If we see any girls in your school we will shoot you in your head. When Tahiba returned home “She will kiss Nisha on her forehead and say”This is not the real world it is an illusion you see and always remember this.” Nisha will tell “I wish I will go back to your time. where everything was normal and beautiful.” When Abdul return home sometimes he will refuse to take any food to show is frustration.
One day the Taliban’s circled the school and shouted: “Are you planning to bring better people and make us look ignorant.” Abdul answered humbly “I am only helping our children to have a better life.” Taliban’s replied, “We will decide from today onwards how to mold the children.” Soon they threw all the benches and tables out and set fire. They also pulled out the straw roof. Talibans laughed and shouted, “Now let’s see how brave you are to start your worthless school again.” Abdul understood it is no use convincing these fools, at least my dear Nisha will not grow to be like other helpless women.
Tahiba hugs Nisha withe tears
Abdul soon became sick. The old man said “Recently some Americans started a small hospital nearby. Let’s take him over there.” Soon Abdul was treated in the hospital. They said, “He is suffering from blood cancer and will not live for more than seven months.” Abdul stayed in the hospital till the end and the Americans didn’t charge any money for his stay.The Taliban’s will keep their eye on the hospital too since they wanted to keep everything under their control. Soon the last day for Abdul came on 9 September 1995. Tahiba and Nisha were filled with tears. Abdul said “Curse this miserable land. Nisha will someday enjoy the same privilege we once had." Finally, Abdul left this world.
Soon Abdul body was buried. Tahiba and Nisha returned with the old man to their house. Many men showed interest in her but Tahiba cared for none. Once inside the house, Tahiba said “I submit my life in the hands of God. Only he can guide us from misery.” She hugged Nisha with tears. The old man looked up and said “One day we will find peace and joy in this very land. Time will never remain the same. Everything will change for good.” Soon it became dark with the sky filled with stars. Tahiba said “The world we see have the same sun, moon, and stars but only the people who live in the soil are different in every country” Nisha smiled and said, “I feel happy something tells me that soon this country will become a happy place.” Tahiba looked at her innocent eyes and said “No matter how difficult our life will be we should never give up faith. Be strong dear Nisha our future is safe in your hand.”