I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working with Afghan refugees (and non-refugees here and there, too), translating for them for different things. Apparently, there’s a strong Afghan community here, most coming in as refugees. When it comes to Pashtuns, I prefer the ones of Afghanistan to those of Pakistan. In my experience, however limited, the Afghan Pashtuns are more willing to re-adjust to new environments, far more willing to learn and understand; the Pakistani Pashtuns, in my experience, no so much. Spare me the torture of talking about my experience with the Pashtuns my family interacts with. Afghan Pashtuns are also more humble. I say this recognizing that our chances of being related or have some far mutual acquaintances are almost none, whereas a Pashtun from Pakistan … my God, we’re always somehow related. I mean, there’s this family from Peshawar that my family knows … and *somehow* … just somehow, we have mutual friends in Swat. That’s to say, when chances of our knowing each other are high, I’m less likely to want to interact with them because honestly, every move a girl makes then becomes the subject of people’s conversations with each other. So since these Afghan Pashtuns likely will not have any relatives or friends in common with my family, my family is less likely to hear rumors about me from them! I mean, get this: A friend of mine had been recently engaged and this random Pakistani Pashtun woman tells her, “You better be careful now that I know your mother-in-law! I’ll be reporting to her about you!” We were like, “wtf?!”
And before anyone else jumps to say it, I’ll do it for you: #notallpashtuns (or whatever hashtag would convey your point). Not all Pashtuns of Pakistan are like that and not all Pashtuns of Afghanistan are like that. But if you think that’s the point here, you’re not in the right place.
Anyway, so the point is that I love working with Pashtuns.
This one family I met for dinner last night, I met them a while ago for a translation task (not one of the refugee ones I work with). They’re from Afghanistan, and the husband had migrated to Swat as a refugee. We were living in the same village for years and didn’t know it! He has fond memories of Swat and the people of Swat, and he swears that he owes so much to Swati people because of how kind and generous they were to him that he is going to bestow all his generosity on ME in return! (Thanks, o’ people of Swat!) Wonderful family. May God bless them and those itty bitty kids (& sn older one) of theirs with much love, happiness, and peace, aameen!
So, yeah. I wuz at this family’s and they wuz good to me. The food, naturally, was totes delish, and they gave me a whole bunch of stuff to take home #blush Including home-made yogurt, one of my favorite kinds of rice (Kabuli palao), lots of cooked vegetables (#blushagain), and some healthy snacks. Look, all I’m saying is … I don’t always get to eat real food, so it felt awesome doing so 😀 God reward them for their generosity!
They were skyping with family in Afghanistan and I joined in. They were so happy 🙂 So was I. Beautiful people! At first, it was just the family’s sister. Then we hung up and some time later, they called back – this time around, the family’s mom wanted to speak with me. It was a pleasure. Was a touching moment because you have these random people who met by chance who speak the same language and understand each other’s cultures and many experiences and who can relate to each other on deep levels because of those experiences. I’m looking forward to a beautiful friendship with them!
They have these white American neighbors who are so loyal to them they all consider each other family members. It warms my heart that they have a community, that they have people who love them and whom they love, that they feel at home in each other’s presence – that they have families who are always there for them and that they, as immigrants, do not feel alone and homesick. Being an immigrant, especially if new, is really painful, and it’s particularly difficult for the older generations. We children adapt to the new environment easily; we may even start accepting it as our own in no time. But it’s not like that for the parents. So I am really, really happy that this one family’s experience as immigrants isn’t as painful as what I’ve seen with other Pashtun immigrants. God bless them.
And speaking of Afghans in this city, I’ve been asked if I could mentor a young Afghan girl whose family has just migrated a couple of weeks ago. When I read about her experience at the new school the first couple of days, my heart screamed for her. Later on, I’ll write about my own experience as an immigrant back in 98-99, the first couple of years of nothing less than hell, but when I read about this little girl’s … I was reminded of my own, and it felt like I was re-living my own experiences. But if this whole mentorship thing works out and I end up working with this girl I’d be happiest to know and mentor for as long as necessary, I’ll blog about it.
Just excited to be speaking Pukhto with people much more frequently than I’m used to!! And to be meeting people with beautiful hearts!
Humanity can be so good when it wants to be. Keep it up!