What I want to say about my father is that he is my comfort in times of pain, my courage in times of defeat and my hope in times of despair. Fathers are those precious gifts of God whose fingers we hold as we learn how to walk, someone whose arms give us a sense of security and whose smiles give us hope.
In a country where girls are forced into marriages, denied education and surrounded by harsh religious and cultural taboos, I have always found my father standing not only behind me but also beside me.
When a girl enters the world of womanhood, this brings sexual harassment, social barriers, home imprisonment, denial of education and many other denials of basic human rights for many of my Afghan sisters. Most certainly I was no exception, but I was fortunate enough to have my father in my fight against them.
After returning from the United States, I took a part time job with a British journalist working on a documentary as well as a news piece about the American elections. The experience taught me on how hard it is for an Afghan woman to go out and work. During an interview in Khair Khana, the two journalists and I were surrounded by a crowd of men. The crowd started giving me cheeky comments because I, an Afghan woman, was working outdoors with foreign journalists. I looked around. This was something I had always been afraid of: being surrounded by men and not being able to defend myself. I listened to all the comments and continued translating the interviews for the journalist. That night when I went home, I directly went to the big room in the right corner of the hall, where my father was watching the news. After greeting him, “Salaam,” I sat beside him. He looked at me. “What is wrong child?” I had no words to express myself. I was angry, but what for? For being a girl, for being an Afghan girl, for being insulted? Turning to face him, I said, “Padar jaan, it was a horrible day today. The men insulted us as much as they possibly could. I hated it so much.”
My father looked me in the eye. “In Afghanistan, it is the world of men, and it takes strong women to make it the equal world of men and women,” he said.
He said nothing more and acted as if nothing had happened. All of a sudden I no longer had any anger inside but it was replaced by courage and a longing for change. I continued my job, paying minimum attention to what people said or thought.
That is who my father is and that is his importance in my life. They say there is a woman behind every successful man; I would say there is also a man behind every successful woman. For me that man is my father.