I met the Afghan girl once more --

Who used to sell burgers and tea --

She had grown up...five years on,

Since I met her last in Murree.

She had an air of poise and grace,

With a shawl wrapped around for warmth,

Looking at me her sad face smiled,

And her speed slackened its pace...

"Salaam Saab Jee!* Where have you been?"

She asked while greeting me,

And ere I could say a word,

Looked up at the heavens, then me.

I was at a loss to say anything,

Her spontaneity baffled me,

She was questioning both me and God,

What her grim future would be.

"I hope you are doing well", she said,

"As for me, the going has been tough,

My homeland turned into a barren waste,

And Kandhaar's famous pommes* waylaid."

"See there sir, I do hope you see,

What the years to me have brought,

The hut down below where I lived,

Is not there, nor my family."

"In the name of terror the aliens came,

And bulldozed everything I had,

They took my loved ones away from me,

And left, without remorse or shame."

"What is terror sir?" The lass asked,

"And what is this war on terror?

Do tell me again for I long to know,

The crimes for which we are being tasked."

It was painful to watch the young maiden,

Looking at me, and the hills beyond,

And the questions to which she sought answers,

Were like thunderbolts striking from heaven.

I tried my best to explain to her,

All that she longed to know,

Taking care not to hurt her feelings,

In my own way did I try to convince her...

But she laughed and laughed after hearing me,

Like something inside had been set free,

Then she stared at me with a wounded gaze -

- A soul tormented by a memory...

Without her flask of tea and muffins,

She looked forlorn and betrayed,

I tried to avoid further questions,

But she kept asking, with a childish grin...

"I have a small radio sir", she said,

"I am better aware of the world now,

Thanks for trying to convince me,

But the warmongers shed our blood and fled..."

"They have made thousands like me homeless,

By driving us away from our native land,

They have destroyed lands and the peace around,

And still contend they are blameless..."

"I sell some soup and dry fruits here,

Cannot offfer you a cup of tea,

In the night I work at a house,

Where an old widow lives on in fear."

With modest grace wrapped all around,

The young one bade me sit and gave,

Some pistachios and some peanuts,

And sat some feet away, on the ground...

Though Time had made her young and bold,

Her feminine beauty was not wild,

Her rustic charm and her free bearing,

Were untainted -- not vain nor cold.

I pondered for a while on Fate,

How it changes everything,

How the quill used by an unseen hand,

Rewrites Man's every crime.

With nobody to support her,

How this brave one was tackling life,

How many more beyond my sight,

Had become victims of war and strife.

As if to shake me back to earth,

She stood up and smiled again,

It was plain - her countenance showed:

That she had made a pact with pain.

"Soon, Saab Jee," she said, "One day,

God will bless us all once more,

I have full faith in my Lord above,

That my people too will have their way..."

Author's Notes/Comments: 

*Saab Jee: Urdu/Hindi for Sir.

*Pommes: Pomegranates, for which Kandhaar, in Afghanistan, is famous.

Composed on August 30, 2007...For reference please read "An Afghan girl's questions" and "The Afghan girl's house".

View emmenay's Full Portfolio