a friend sent me the link to a lovely photo-essay on fp by mohammad qayoumi titled ‘once upon a time in afghanistan’. nostalgic, heartbreaking, and beautiful. a memento of what the country was once like.

afghanistan in the 60s

or was it?

not to be a party spoiler, and not to come across as agreeing with those lunatic 13th century broken country comments, (and yes, i also loved the grainy black and white photos of a yesteryear afghanistan that was better at least on some accounts than the mess today and where skirt-clad young girls browsed through records of the ‘jackson five’ in kabul’s music stores) seriously, am i the only one who thinks that things like the following quote are more than a little ‘airbrushed’ version of what indeed was the reality?

“Afghanistan’s racial diversity has little meaning except to an ethnologist. Ask any Afghan to identify a neighbor and he calls him only a brother.”

afterall, the setting of the kiterunner was in approximately the same era, and there at least afghanistan’s racial diversity holds wider interest than the closed circle of ethnologists – to say the least.

and just to be perfectly clear: in asking this, i am not being gratuitously distasteful, but rather concerned above all with historic accuracy.
we need not hoodwink ourselves into a makebelief version of history if we are to make a better country.
we ought to have the audacity to admit what was, in all its detail -both pretty and ugly- in order to allow ourselves to aspire to what will be.
rumi says:

آیینه چون نقش تو بنمود راست
خود شکن آیینه شکستن خطاست


~ by safrang on May 28, 2010.

2 Responses to “really?”

  1. I agree with you, Hamesha.. I am nostalgic too, and there is reason to be so with great music and growing literature, and fine taste and…. also of course we would have preferred for the wars to not happen and this crazy, painful baggage to not exist.. but we should not overromanticize past.. if things were so perfect, they would not have fallen apart so awfully… pictures like this only speak about a lifestyle that a very small minority of people had and were comfortable with… Now, if no one blames me for heartlessness, I think there is reason to believe that even with the mess that we are currently in, there are things that have improved since, and a lot that has gone wrong, but somethings were definitely not imaginable in that Afghanistan that are imaginable and possible for lots of Afghans now… The difference between the real opportunities my aunt had and her daughter or I have today is not something that easily happened.. the number of people from every background actually having access to education and actually knowing what education can do, and recognising it as a right… was not a possibility in that Afghanistan…

  2. and that ‘beauty’ had in it the seeds of its own destruction. for it came in haste. with illusions. let alone how scarce it was. the nostalgics ought not recommend it as what we ought to aspire.

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