From the terrifying moment our plane left Afghan soil and entered the Iranian airspace on August 20th, 1980, I promised myself that if I lived through the ordeal I would recount my story in a memoir and share my personal journey, experiences and impressions of an Afghanistan that is often misunderstood and discounted. My memoir is a true account of the Afghanistan I knew and recently visited again since my departure nearly 30 years ago. It is the true story of the Afghan people that has never been truly portrayed.
The Afghanistan I grew to love as a boy; its rich culture, social dignity, and proud heritage has been forever scarred and betrayed by 40 years of foreign aggression, missed opportunities and ultimately the “loss of decency.” Countless historical perspectives chronicle Afghanistan’s journey towards the 21st Century and I am neither meant to provide a historian’s perspective nor represent a political agenda. With the encouragement of friends, family, educators and respected authors I have written my memoir, which revolves around my passion for Afghanistan, my obligation to rescue as many of my family members as I could; my pursuit of a “home away from home,” as a refugee and my need for “truth” and “transformation” as I continue to watch and hear suffering and misunderstanding in and about my native land.
I have embarked on this path of telling a story about Afghanistan that has never been told before, because I hope that something truly beautiful can emerge from the misery that has blurred the world’s image and that now threatens its future generations. My life… my Afghanistan…my story; are woven together as part of a vivid tapestry of images from my personal journey. My book chronicles my innocent and wondrous life as a boy growing up in Afghanistan and the death of innocence and birth of chaos that began with the invasion of the Soviet Union on December 24th 1979. Many of the accounts in the book are “laugh-out-loud” funny, while others are tragically heart-breaking.” My story…my flight as a refugee; and my subsequent re-birth as an immigrant in the “post 911” United States, is an excellent “read” for a broad market wishing to “peel back” the obvious images in the nightly news, and see an image of Afghanistan that has not been shared or is widely known. This work is an introspective look into the true beauty of an Afghanistan that was once the “darling” of the western world, and has fallen victim to the harsh realities of imperial aggression. The promise of the Afghanistan of my youth has given way to images of war, corruption, and violence and has ultimately resulted in the “lost decency.”
My objective in writing my memoir is to “set the record straight” from a social and anthropological perspective. Afghanistan was once a peaceful and prosperous society with a unique and vibrant culture at the crossroads of Central Asia. Today, the lasting impact and the forces of change that has shattered her progress are at the heart of understanding what Afghanistan can be again.
I am proud to have written a book that not only details true eyewitness accounts of the modern social history of Afghanistan, but also provides a story of unforgettable determination, courage and perseverance. My life today has been shaped by these events and as successful financial services professional and a leader in the Afghan-American community, I wish to share my depth of experience to ensure that the sacrifices of generations past have not been in vain. Perhaps if my work is read; these last four decades of war, uncertainty and violence will not erase the beauty of a culture that spans more than 1,500 years for generations to follow.
In order to validate my opinions and provide a timely retrospective of the events that have shaped the current social landscape, I recently returned to Afghanistan and found a genuine sense of frustration and despair that left me greatly disturbed and in fear of the future. There have been so many unrealized opportunities and misguided policies that the country may never experience the peace and prosperity it richly deserves and that we have “all” been fighting for. Rampant with fraud and deceit, the nation teeters on a precipice…at the crossroads of “what is” and “what could be.” My work is at the leading edge of Afghanistan’s current crisis, and is not only a “look back” at what “once was,” but also a “wake-up call” to what “is.” Perception is not always reality, and reality is not always obvious. My story uncovers the myths and provides a living truth about the country I love.