Friday, 16 April 2010

Hami and his falcon: facing the “other” Kabul

In the loving memory of Hami Najafi

“Walk with me”, said the bird. Hami could not distinguish at a glance whether it was a North Gyrfalcon accompanying him or just an Asiatic Saker, like those that his father used to show him in the encyclopedia.

The bird flew low, along with him and kept talking to him. His voice sounded like a thirty – years - old man’s, chirping, in warm waves. The boy’s ears were full of monotonous mournings, recitations of Suras from the Koran and women’s weeping. Hence, he found relief in the indifferent, though reassuring , air of his companion.

They were surrounded by trees. Planetrees, mulberries, willows, poplars and ash trees…A strange forest into the snow, that under his feet looked black and steaming…Trees of his country gathered together in a giant orchard where they had been walking for a week in order to cross it. The bird perched on his shoulder. Hami took a deep breath. What he really wanted now was to be seen by his sister…

The snow below was black. Puddles and mud were reflecting sunlight, sending back the image of the boy, dressed in traditional costume, wearing a green turban with a golden cameo on his head. The voices tried to draw his attention:

“Hami stop day dreaming! You have to do your homework!”

“Hami, can I borrow your bike?”

“Mom, can I sleep over at Khaled’s?”

“Look what I brought you today! A geography atlas!”

“Mom, I’m scared in the dark. Why is this boat rocking like that?”

“Again we did not make it to reach the city centre in order to get the political refugee papers”

“Mr. Najafi is one of the best teachers. He also teaches young girls”

“Good for you Hami! You are not any longer ashamed to look into the garbage!”

“Oh! I my son is gone!”

“We are going to see it soon”, said the bird.
“What do you want me to call you?” Hami asked. His courage seemed strange to him.
“Morya”, answered the bird shaking its wings but it did not leave the boy’s shoulder.

The trees were now thinning out. In front of him, he could see, far in the horizon, the mountain and at the top, the Celestial City. From that distance the minarets and the walls of the city could be discerned clearly. A thousand reflections from the windows made the city look brighter and fairylike . A splendid city.

“Are we going there?”, he asked, although he was certain that he would not get an answer.

“It is Kabul, the celestial City. She gets her name from the Farsi Ab (water) and gul (flower). The Ptolemy’s Kabura was the Celestial City of Indian hymns, a City of outstanding beauty, where all dreams come true…

Hami, rubbed his eyes and looked around him puzzled. The light of the sun blurred his vision, now that they had crossed the orchard.
The buzz from the voices in his ears was getting quitter.

He started to forget. First he forgot Athens, the neighborhood, their small apartment. He even forgot his sister’s doll. He forgot his parents and his brothers and his sisters. Their remembrance all that time had brought him a painful sensation, a lump in the throat that would not let him find peace.

Then, he forgot what was the most precious. His neighborhood in Kabul. The school, his teacher, the dentist that he had visited to have his teeth checked, the waste ground where children played football.

After that, the Kabul of his childhood was completely erased from his memory. The pandemonium in the streets, the hooting of the cars, women wearing burkas, walking in the streets.
The war, bombs, exile…When they had sold their belongings in order to leave…

To get away from all that...

It was just this mountain. The Celestial City was waiting for him, a City whose beauty made her all the more desirable. It was his destination. He was going to reach it. This time the City would not let him down. He would not be in exile any longer exile….

Morya, the falcon with the human voice, was reciting a Sura from the Koran:

“My beloved.
You have been given Al – Khautar, the river of Paradise to walk along. Its banks are gold and its bed is of pearls. And milk flows in it, sweeter than the sweetest milk…”

But Hami was not yet delivered from all human passions. It was his mother’s tender voice he was listening to. And he was not able to forget that…

P. S.

On Sunday 28 March a bomb exploded in a rubbish bin in a neighborhood of Athens:
It had been placed by a relatively newly formed terrorist organization.
Hami Najafi, a 15 year old Afghani immigrant boy had been rummaging in it and has been killed. His 11 year old sister is seriously injured and there are fears that she will lose her eyesight. The  terrorist organization has been now dismantled by the police and its members are brought to justice.

Images from the internet:


  1. a small correction to this wonderful text... Mum is short for mummy = μουμια, Mom is short for mother = μητερα

  2. Thanks for sharing this blog post from the loving memory of Hami Najafi. Kabul is such a lovely place with lots of mountains, and beautiful people. Alas! now, it's more like a field of war.