Now that I am able to read and write, I can write my memories, ideas, goals, and dreams, which gives me peace.
We live in the 21st century, but still, all the children in the world don’t have an equal opportunity to go to school and benefit from the educational system.
How did I become literate?
When I was seven years old I was ready to go to my favorite school. I went there with my mom to register, waiting in the schoolyard while my mom went inside the office. The yard was huge, and as I was waiting I muttered to myself, “In a few minutes I’ll be able to run around the schoolyard with other kids!” After waiting for a while, I became impatient and went inside the office, hearing the principal say “No, I am sorry,” as she said goodbye to my mom. I asked my mom, “When do I start school?” She said, “No, it’s not possible.” I heard “no” twice in one day. Why? I kept quiet and didn’t ask her anything else that day, but I later learned that I was not only able to attend that school, but any school in the area as well.
I kept thinking about the school principal, about the “no” I heard, about the “I am sorry.” Maybe I learned the real meaning of the word “no.” It meant, “it won’t happen,” “it’s not possible,” and the word “sorry” meant pity.
I told myself, “No it’s not possible. I’m sorry you can’t study and be literate. I’m sorry.”
I thought everyone got “no” for an answer, but when I saw my friends they were very happy and excited. I wondered, how can someone be so happy to hear no? The answer came to me after talking to them, I found out they were all going to school. But why? Why can’t I go? Then I found the answer to “why?” too. I was like my friends in every way, the same two eyes, ears, hands, legs, one nose. There was one difference, however, my country’s name was different than theirs.
For the first time, I understood the meaning of nationality and that it separates people from each other. I thought nationality, like all other names, is by choice and can be chosen by us. I was mad at my parents for not choosing the right one for me. They told me that they had no choice in the matter, and it’s one of the things that cannot be chosen.
I was deeply saddened, I couldn’t comprehend why all kids can’t go to school.
I put my backpack in the closet so I wouldn’t see it anymore.
One week had passed from the first day of school, when my mom told me, “Sleep early tonight, you’re going to go to school tomorrow.” Even though I thought she was joking, I slept early because after hearing that I had a very good feeling.
I woke up early in the morning, put on my school uniform, and had breakfast. I was very excited, I was actually going to go to school! We took the bus, it was around a 30-minute drive without traffic.
This school was totally different from my imagination. The schoolyard was tiny, you could barely walk around let alone run, classes were small, and three kids would sit together on one school bench, but I was fine with it because I was very happy to be in school. Also, all the kids who got a “no” “it’s not possible” and “sorry” for an answer for all different reasons, were here. In this school, I learned another sentence, “Yes you can, you can learn how to read and write.”
That small school became my school, and I finished elementary schooling there.
Although our school didn’t have a big yard, it didn’t prevent us from being happy. The three-student benches created friendships that bonded during math and spelling tests.
I met people and learned about different ethnicities in my country, and sometimes at recess, we would talk in Dari dialogue with each other.
A school with limited resources gave us the biggest opportunities in life. Yes, I learned how to read and write.
Thank you for not closing the door in my face and opening it to discoveries for me.