I took a chance in asking them to jump and shout
and wow! I was electrified.
Their arms, legs and faces released energy,
as if they were astronauts
breaking free from a difficult Earth.
“What? Jump? Why?”
They were skeptical but eager,
and soon the yard rang with laughter
One, two, three…
Their hesitance choked on a few breaths,
they took off,
bursting all over the place
beyond their young vulnerable selves.
Farzad’s hundred worries,
already nesting in his keen eyebrows,
were teased out of his chest,
slung above his knees by a scarf,
and flung like rockets.
Towards the sky.
Matin’s father could have been released from prison
if he had paid a bribe.
“I have to work…
He’s ‘gone’ for another year and a half.”
It was a road traffic accident
that replaced their family’s poverty
with desperate destitution.
When asked about what he wished to learn about peace,
Tufan said, “Tell me about past wars.”
He is now a carpenter,
already engaged to a relative
who stays in Nangahar,
where the ‘war on terrorism’ is still blazing
despite its poor ‘report card’.
Nobody bothers, so history won’t bother either.
Su’ood, opening himself up to the air,
or falling back on the mountains.
Anything, anything but the sea,
‘cos that is where his cousin, Ibrahim,
unable to breath in, or out.
A previously naughty Su’ood
became reticent overnight.
that we are together,
even if only for a while.
Though our blended voices
may still be unheard,
we discover ourselves,
we recognize one another’s pain.
Doesn’t the human family see it on their faces?
Pashtun, Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik.
Dignity, and tears.
The older volunteers learn
that if kids can love,
so can they.
They can undo their angst,
feel deep in,
and reach out to the world.