36 Years ago, a wonderful, gentle and handsome boy named Najeeb Khogiani and his esteemed family came to our house and asked for my aunt's hand. I was beside myself. I was 6 years old and my aunt who we called 'Maisa (short for Shomaisa) was my world. I used to climbed to her bed and we would roll around and pull the cover from each side to see who can make a cocoon of comforter around their body first. We called the game "lola", it was "our"game. It was a game we invented. The night of the the engagement I pretended that I had a terrible stomach ache and refused to enjoy the party. Finally Maise told me that if I accept the engagement, she would give me Yasameen, Her prized little dancing doll. The bribe worked and she had a fun party. It was 36 years ago...all anyone cared in those long forgotten years in Afghanistan was someone's education and family reputation (not that I agree with it). If a boy and a girl liked each other, that was enough to trigger the wedding process. Love came and to this day comes later in Afghan marriages. There was never mention of what tribe he or she belonged or what language they spoke.
It was 36 years ago and there was no talk of Najo jaan (Najeeb) being Pashtun in our house or Maisa being Tajik in their house. All we knew was that these two beautiful, happy and vibrant people had love in their hearts and wanted to spend the rest of their life together. And that is just what they did. 7 years later, their studies were completed, they bought an apartment together and had Orzala who was a joy for the family and still is. She came late into their lives and changed my aunt to a mother. And what a mother she was. Then Atal, her son was born. One of the sweetest, most compassionate kids I have ever met. He never got caught up with bullshit and lives his life quietly with integrity and love. He works for a non profit that provides housing to people in need in San Francisco.
36 years ago, a couple, one Tajik and one Pashtun raised a loving family that spoke 2 languages and both were celebrated in both families. Maisa Passed away Friday the 12th of October from lung cancer related complications. Her brother in law (we call him Dagarwaal Sahib, kids call him Santa Clause for his radiant energy and sweet nature) who is one of the most revered people in the community said prayers and the remembrance at her grave side. He spoke lovingly in 2 languages.
I clearly remember the day my friend Naim (a Hazara) asked me what ethnicity I belong to. I was already in 11th grade and had no idea. I asked my dad that night; he laughed and told me I was an Afghan. I persisted to get an answer, he told me that the region we came from technically made us Tajik. Later that year, Naim again asked me whether I was Sunni or Shia?? Again I was startled and asked dad. He said that I was a Muslim first then if I had to know, a Suni.
It is 2007, Tajiks and Pashtuns, Sunis and Shias fight! They kill each other just by being who they are as a group, not as an individual. They don't need to know who they are killing as long as it is the opposite.
What? Why? Until when?