Humbled by Destiny

by - 7:38 PM


I started reading books about Afghanistan (mostly biographies) since I was 17. Can you believe, that was 10 years ago? Some books echo a resounding message that moves us to make prayers and dream impossible dreams, leading us on a winding road to our destiny. I remember reading “Raising My Voice”, by Malalai Joya, a 25 year-old Afghan woman who courageously spoke up against warlords, and thereafter continued to endure endless threats against her life. I read “The Secret Guesthouse of Kabul”, by an Afghan woman who started a secret school for girls during Taliban rule. I read many others that stirred my heart towards this land. I remember sometimes putting my book down to pray a silent prayer, that one day God takes me there — not for adventure, but for a purpose. 


Now, 10 years later, I find myself having lived in this land the past two and a half years. Sometimes, while cooking, or sitting by the window with a cup of tea and a book, I look up and marvel at the incredulous fact that I’m not in Australia anymore. How did I end up here? 10 years later, I find myself still reading books about Afghanistan even as I’m right here, on the ground. When I stop to think about it, I’m moved in my spirit. I feel humbled. So thankful to God for taking me on this journey. For planting those seeds in my heart long ago. For leading me to make Afghan friends in Australia, even way back in 2012, when I visited the transit detention centre to meet Afghan families seeking asylum. For giving me the opportunity to set my feet on this soil, to hear the sound of its noisy streets, the occasional metallic bang of gunshots in the evenings, the drone of military helicopters whirring overhead by day, the predictable blare of calls to prayer from the mosques, and the silence of dawn rising over the fortress of mountains surrounding Kabul. 


Just writing about it makes me shiver. While it sounds romantic, and there are indeed beautiful things hidden beneath the fine dust, the everyday reality itself is undoubtedly harsh. Isolating. Oppressive. Heart-wrenching. Violent. Wearisome. Some days you feel like a heavy dark cloak is over you, obscuring your true countenance, suppressing your laughter, corroding your courage, stealing your strength, silencing your voice. This is why my prayers and my songs sustain me. I wrote a song in my first year here called “I Will Not Be Silenced”. A country that has experienced the silencing of music for five years is in a league of its own. It has gone through a thousand other unspeakable pains. It cannot go back to its golden days in a time bygone, and yet looking onward to the future, it struggles to climb out of the trenches of an endless war. It’s burdened peoples are still trying to recollect their voice amidst the clamour of self-serving leaders. A cacophony of confusing claims and ideologies. They all say different things, mean different things. They throw around the word “peace” with little notion of what it truly is. Peace is a battered word. Peace is an elusive abstraction. Peace is what they say. Not what they live. What to believe? 


That’s why I pray: God, give me a soft heart in a hard place. I’m not from here. I can’t feel the same pain, the same disappointment, the same fear, the same distrust, as people feel here. I can only empathise. How did I get here? It is by miracle, by destiny, by calling, by faith. 


Now is not the time to indulge the details. But one day I shall tell it. 

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