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The Rugmaker of the Mazar-e Sharif

Chapter 1-3
by

Irfan Laghmani

on 15 October 2012

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Transcript of The Rugmaker of the Mazar-e Sharif

Singing in the
Wilderness Chapter 1-3 The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif My name is Najaf Mazari, I'm from the Shar Shar in the north of Mazar-e-Sharif
They say that, I have jumped the queue. I hadn't even hear it before I came to Australia.
I'm struggling in the deserts of the Woomera in a section called November. As if I have slept in the deserts of Afghanistan and have woken up in the deserts of Australia now. They need my Birth Certificate, but I don't have one, very few Afghans can produce such a document. Babies are born without anything in writing to prove that they exist.
I see a sky full of stars, I see a woman- my mother-my older brother- Abdul Ali, I see my face, a much younger face than the one I wear now. I can see my sister Latifeh's face, she is smiling. And I can hear the sounds calling me, my family even our dog is calling me. However I have these memories but still I'm alone, nobody from my family is with me, they left me alone in this desert. Singing in the
Wilderness Hamal is the first month of the Afghani Calender, a word that can mean "pregnant". Flowers are beginning to bloom at that time, bright red flowers with delicate petals. Singing in the
Wilderness I'm singing a folk Hazaragi song, its the only drug which can kill the pain inside my heart, at least for a moment.
I'm singing with a lot of confidence, enthusiasm and love. Suddenly I saw the people at the balcony listening to and I stopped singing, and I didn't sing again. But later I thought to myself, it was a good chance for me to impress them, so that they will let me to be here for ever. Singing in the
Wilderness Fire in the Night Chapter-2 Afghanistan has been a type of explosion laboratory over the past three decades.
In the 1980's, the Russians tried out bombs and exploding devices in Afghanistan that came fresh off the drawing board. We Afghanis had the desired honor of being amongst the first human being on earth to be blown pieces by this state of the art Russian weaponry. Fire in the Night My family moved to the city of Mazar-e Sharif in 1980. We had been in the small village of Shar Shar high in the mountain up until the time of my father's death. Now Gorg Ali- My eldest- brother is responsible for our family. He decided that we should move to Mazar.
It was his plan to build two houses on a large block of land just inside and settle there for the rest of his days. What he had in mind was a small farm where he would keep a few cattle and harvest the orchard that already existed on the site. Let me tell you about Mazar-e- Sharif:
Its a small city by world standard, but fairly big for Afghanistan. It had a population of 110,000. We Afghans farm, we herd livestock, we grow crops, we mine gems, we keep orchards, Almost 80% of Afghans make their living by growing, harvesting, digging and herding, even sometimes the traditional Afghan trade so close to my heart, rug-making, is sometimes carried out in the open air.
Its in the far north of the country, close to the borders of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Mazari-Sharif lies in the broad valley that falls away to the east in Turkmenistan and eventually subsidies into the desert of Peski Karakumy. Its cold as arctic in winter, very hot in the summer.
Its famous for its rug trading shops, and even sometimes its called the rug city. Fire in the Night We made the house, but weren't far from the fighting altogether. We weren't a family of political firebrands. We believed that people made themselves happy by working. My older brother, Gorg Ali, used to warn us to steer clear of all political parties, all the political disputes. He used to tell us: "Anger is hammer, it has only one task- to strike hard, and strike again. And your enemy's anger is just the same."
The president of Afghanistan, Babrak Kamral, had made a special visit to Mazar-e Sharif probably at the insistence of the Russians, who controlled him. They wanted to show that he could roam nation freely(he couldn't), or he is very popular in the north(he wasn't). Fire in the Night On the day of the explosions, it had been my intention to stay at my uncle Ibrahim's house, but something came to me and I wanted to return to my own home, so I made excuse and returned to my home.
On my way to home, I stopped at the shrine of Ali(R) to pay homage to the son in law of the prophet(SAW). I kissed the Shrine and prayed, hoping for some relief .
At that night everything went normal, we ate together, we chatted, we shared the fruit, drank a hot tea and went to sleep.
It was the period of summer when the nights remained hot, so as an Afghani tradition we slept outside. I could hear the distant and muffled sounds of cannon fire in the mountains.
The noise of the first explosion was astonishingly loud; it was the loudest sound I had heard through my lifetime. Fire in the Night I heard voice of my brother Abdul Ali raining curses on the head of Babrak Karmal, who had brought this catastrophe down on us. I can see my mother screaming at the top of her voice, calling the names of her children.
"What happened ?" she cried. "In the name of God, what has happened?".
I couldn't move. I'm trying but I cant, I'm just watching the others actions, but now I cant hear as well, My eardrums are aching.
Suddenly I heard the long, shrieking sound of a rocket coming towards us, and it exploded. I saw my mother running for help from the neighbors. I saw one of her fingers hanging loose in a stream of blood.
Over the few minutes the images fixed into my mind. Hence I was in a tough time but I found poetry would do the justice, which it did. Fire in the Night I'm telling this story in 2006. The rockets exploded in 1985, I still remember every single thing.
After the rockets incident I woke up in a hospital, and my right leg was heavily bandaged. I was aware of pain and I was fighting with it as a soldier in the battle field.
Within a few minutes of regaining the consciousness, my uncle came quietly into the room and sat down beside me in a chair. I could see from his face that he has something bad to tell me.
"Your brother Rosal Ali has been killed, God receive him". he said" Hassan too, has been killed, God receive his soul. Abdul Ali is badly wounded, but he will live. Your mother has suffered a terrible wound, but she will too survive, thank God. Latifeh and your sister in law have been spare , thank God for their safety. Alas, your home is destroyed." Fire in the Night Fire in the Night I'm in Woomera with a big fence around me, a baby and a wife 5000km away, and only one shoe to my name, that's right only one shoe. I lost the other one in the oceans on the way. But now only having one shoe in the Woomera.
I have heard the term, "sad sack", I'm not a sad sack, not in my family but here I'm because there's no one from my family and I don't know the people around me, they are strangers. Shoes Chapter-3 I tried make my self useful, so I asked for a work, so that I can pass my time. The supervisor has found a job for me in the kitchen.
I get up early in the morning, and go to kitchen. There I prepare the bread for breakfast, boil the eggs, put out the tea bags. Its not skilled work.
I want to show some good manners, so they might allow me to stay at their country. I'm out of any fight and I'm giving food equally to everyone.
In the dining room, I'm looking at everyone. I'm thinking they might haven't gambled through their lives but they have gambled after coming to Australia. Some might have borrowed the money and given it to the smugglers, so they could them here. Shoes After breakfast, again I have my boring and frustrating life which I had before starting the work
Again I'm struggling in the deserts of Woomera.
I have to find something to think about, so I can spend my time.
Lets think about rugs, I want to touch one and and feel its quality, how its made, which fabrics has been used, which type of rug its and so on.... heyyy stop, where am I going , I shouldn't think about rugs because it makes me feel sad.
The guys are playing soccer. They have shoes. They are lucky, because they have shoes, not like me not having even a complete pair of shoes. AGGGHHHH, again Najaf, don't think about shoes, it will also make you feel sad.
What should I think about, can someone help me? I look away from the game and wonder what can I think about to make the sun move faster. I have enough time in November to think about anything I want to think about. Such luxury! possibly I will talk about my family I will think of my wife and my baby girl.
It will make me sad all day. I want my wife to know that I have crossed thousands of kilometers of land and thousands of kilometers of sea and that I am still alive. I want to shout loud enough for Hakima to hear me in Afghanistan, "I'm here! I have found the land of Australia! It was over the ocean, just as it shows itself on the map!" And then I would should a second time: "A blessing on our daughter! Tell her I have seen no Kangaroos!".
Its true I seen no kangaroo. I would like to see one. I would like to watch him leap. In the middle of the day, I have to go back to kitchen and start preparing to serve the lunch. The menu doesn't change much from day to day: rice with some chicken, or rice with some beef. I am lucky that I'm being fed, in our country there are some people which don't have anything to eat.
At least the menu should change in a week. They should change it with Noodles, because its good, tasty and cheap.
There are some people which are not providing the food equally which causes some fights and disagreements, for example most of the times Iranians give more to there own Iranian and immediately a Chechen complains. After that everyone support the Chechens, because they are just two and also we Afghans don't like Iranians because they don't like Afghans. They make joke on us and call us donkeys. So we think they are arrogant.
In Afghanistan serving food and cleaning up the kitchen is a task that Afghans leave to women, its a shame for a man to work in the kitchen in Afghanistan. If my mother see me like this she would have felt deeply insulted. But at least I'm working . Shoes Here might be 80 of the people in the dinning room, I'm thinking that if they were from my family and belonged to my family, how good it would had been. Look one looks same as my brother Abdul Ali. That woman as well she looks as my mother as well.
My English is getting a little better. I know the names of many things now, such as bread, chicken, beef, apple, table, chair, egg, building, man, woman.
How strange, there is a word for "bread" in every language, hundreds of words for "woman", and "apple".
There is word for every necessary thing. A chicken is a necessary thing. A man is a necessary thing. A woman is a necessary thing. An apple is a necessary thing. Then there is many unnecessary things, such as "political party" and "gun" and "bomb". Isn't the unnecessary things are dangerous?, except for a, woman. Because women are very dangerous but good as well, like my wife. Dangerous and cute as well. Shoes Everyone has different stories of their lives. Some have passed difficult life than me. Some are with their children and wives, their children ask their mothers and fathers "When will we go off here?" while both parents don't have any answer.
Fight is a not good thing, if you don't want to live here so fight, but if you want to live here, live peacefully.
I'm a Hazara, I know there is always good people and bad people in everywhere. I'm not racist but if someone says bad about Hazaras I get hurt inside me. We waited for long times to get here to Australia. We waited in hiding while vans carried us slowly across Afghanistan and Pakistan. We waited in Karachi for an aerosplane to take us to Jakarta. We waited in Jakarta for a people smugglers to find a boat. We waited on the boat to heat and cyclones while the boat crossed the Timor Sea. We waited at Ashmore Reef for rescue. We waited for the Australian Navy after an aeroplane spotted us. We waited in Darwin for the authorities to look at our documents. And we wait here for the man at the big desk in the city of Canberra to put a tick or a cross or a question mark on our forms.
As we know that all of the waiting caused by the impatient people, who cant wait. Those who threw bombs on us and fought for their targets. Whenever people are impatient and will not wait, you can be sure there will be a cost. Big cost and small cost. My family was a big cost and my left shoe is one of the small costs. Thank you very muchhhhh
for listening I couldn't understand what my uncle said, but it took me half an hour to understand it, after that I was in deep sorrow, and I started crying.
I thought most of all of Rosal Ali. He had caused me so much anger when he lived, but anger somehow made me love him more now than if he'd pleased me every day of his life. I had wanted to see him live long enough to become more responsible, to become a brother I could be proud of.
In the days followed, yet I could barely manage to think of my mother's agony at the death of my younger brother, coming only a year after the death of her firstborn son, Gorg Ali... Shoes Shoes Shoes Shoes
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