Father’s Day

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.

By Meena


7 responses to “Father’s Day

  1. Hi Meena,
    I like this piece on your father. I was curious about your time in the US, and assume he played a role in that as well. As a eader, I sort of wanted to see the scene with the journalists, although you do a great job describing how you felt. What do you think made your father different from the other men?
    Again–a nice piece.

  2. Meena, what a wonderful story! I hope to meet your father some day. He is a very unusual man to be so supportive and to have raised such a daughter!

  3. Dear Meena Jaan!

    I love the way you write.
    It is wonderful, you know I had such a father Godbless him, I cried when I read your writing.
    God give your father long life. all the best to you dear keep writing the same way.

  4. Meena — what a wonderful insight into your life and the experience of women in Afghanistan. Thank you for taking time from your life to write.

  5. Dear Meena,

    Thank you for writing this, and for sharing this with us. I found this to be very moving, a proud testament to your loving father–and to the brave writer and woman-in-the-world that you are, too!

    I could see this becoming a longer piece. You could extend the scenes. Let us hear, see, smell more that’s around you. I hope you will think about doing this. In the meantime, happy writing.

    Best to you,

  6. Meena – This is a beautiful essay. I hope you shared it with your father. He must be very proud of you! Nancy

  7. Dear Meena Jaan,

    What a magnificent tribute to your father! And really well written. I look forward to reading more essays. Your description of your life is excellent. Where did you study in the US?
    Best regards, Ann

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