Day 103 away from Kabul

It is another dream. I wake up. I am in our one-bedroom apartment on Connecticut avenue in D.C 6000 miles away from Kabul where my dad is resting. I have dreamed about him again. He is ill. We are trying to save him. I am in the hospital garden pacing, praying, crying, smiling, talking to myself, wanting to stop everyone that comes my way to promise me he is going to be fine… I have come home from the hospital. It is late at night. I am in bed. Arash is next to me. I turn to him, I want him to pray. I mean, how could his prayer could not be accepted…

We are driving through Murad Khani mountain. Shaharzad has told me, Dad is no more. I do not notice the usual traffic. I do not feel the bumpy roads. I do not notice the street kids banging on the window. I forget to look for the beggar girl who is always there in Dehmazang square making her way through cars, being catcalled, harassed, and abused as she begs. Usually she is on the streets at 10 at night when I am on my way home from university. I think about her and I look for her all the time, except for tonight. I want and I do not want her on the streets late at Kabul nights at the same time. Her being there is proof that she’s still alive. Her being there also means unkind and dark Kabul streets at night could hurt her. She is tall and beautiful. I still think about her deep eyes with a thousand stories of Kabul nights.

I am at mom’s house. Arash is running around calling his Baba. Iqbal is sitting on the ground. I have never seen him this quiet. I feel he is melting in to the ground… Someone gives me a hug as I walk my way to the living room. It feels like we are all frozen. I do not believe this. I do not believe anything could take him away from us. He was very tough. He had been dealing with all kinds of illnesses his all life. I though he would fight this, and he would be fine.

It is another dream… I wake up and I find my self negotiating with God again. I have this immense feeling of helplessness. The realization that there are things that just fail us all. We have no control over. One of them is the death of a loved one. You have to watch it come and take you over. Sink in you. Pain you and be there. A new life-long friend…

We are in Ferdousi park in pre war Macrorayan, Kabul. I must be four years old. The park is peaceful and green. Shaharzad and I are playing hide and seek with Dad.

The few minutes Dad would hide scattered the fear of losing him all over my heart. But we would always find him. He would be standing behind a tree. His eyes would shine as soon as he saw us find him. Maybe he felt our fear and didn’t want us to look for him for long. We would go on running around the park. Playing, dancing, chanting, feeling safe, taken care of and loved…

We are living in an old house surrounded by gardens. It is late in the evening. Dad is not back from one of his long walks. Dinner is almost ready. I go after him. I walk towards the garden. I see his foot print on the narrow walkway in between bushes and greens. I follow the footprint and I find him. I walk back home with him. I don’t remember what we talked about on the way back. But I remember being happy about finding him. I remember being joyful walking back home with him…

When I really miss him, I think, If I go back to Ferdousi park I will find him waiting for me to find him behind that tree. Or If I go to that garden and I look for his footprints and follow them, they will lead me to him. Or maybe If I go to the local restaurant in front of his favorite bookshops in Joi Sheer?

I went to Ferdousi Park before moving to D.C with Mariam. I feel like a part of me wanted to look for him, for that tree… for that time… Time and war has taken away so much from me since those days. It has taken the green and peace fromFerdousi Park too… The scars of war and bullets are there on the swings, on the slides, on the buildings around the park and on the trees. They have painted over the bullet holes, but they are there. Deep as they were.