It was the last days of October 2000, and winter had arrived early in Bamiyan as usual. A cold breeze was blowing with a whooshing sound, the sun had just risen up from the east and the crows were cawing on the high branches of trees. The accentuated parts of Salsaal and Shamama was covered by the snow fallen all night. Marzia, a 10 year old girl with dark eyes and a long dark hairs, full red lips, narrow eyes and flat nose but a good looking face was standing by an old soviet tank. She was looking thoroughly at the great stature of Buddha which also seemed to be staring at her, with the beautiful city of Bamiyan lying under its feet. Marzia was proud of the picture of Buddha she had drawn with a stick on the snow. She was so much delighted to have Buddha, an art of her ancestors safe and sound after continuous wars. They were something more than just historical idols for Marzia. She could not imagine Bamiyan and all its beauties without Buddha. After hearing all the disappointing news about the ongoing wars in other parts of Afghanistan through radio every night, she had decided to become a photographer and show all the beauties of Buddha and other beautiful parts of the country as a beautiful Afghanistan through her pictures to the world rather than a war battered Afghanistan.
The other month passed and war was getting intense but Marzia visited Buddha as a daily ritual. When Taliban reached Bamiyan they ruined everything even the great idols of Buddha were not spared. Marzia received the shaking news of Buddha being ruined from her parents. She abruptly ran to the scene and reached there panting. It was inconsolable for Marzia to accept the demolition of her dream, the Buddha whose beauty she wanted to share with the world. She sat weeping helplessly near the broken parts of Buddha lying miserable on the ground. The hopeless little girl was still crying when a hope sparked in her heart to become an architect in order to rebuild Salsaal and Shamama. The increasing war made the situation too much chaotic for Marzia and her family to stay, at last they migrated to Kabul where she was one of the few girls who was attending school after the Taliban regime. She had to face many problems out of which their bad economic condition was just a part of it. Discrimination and gender violence had become a part of her daily life. Every night she would shatter within herself after recalling the awful day she had been through, but the next day she would start her life with a new spirit and energy, being more hopeful towards life.
Once at school all the students were asked about their aims of life, when Marzia’s turn came, as she was the only girl in the class, so all the ears were attentive toward’s her answer; Zulmai, a mustachioed old man with a long gray beard asked her the question.
‘I want to become an architect in the future, sir.” Replied Marzia.
“Why?” asked Zulmai again.
“Because I want to recarve salsaal and shamama and likewise rebuild other parts of Afghanistan destroyed during war. Although there are rumors that foreigners will come to Afghanistan to rebuild it, but it is our home and I believe that we must prosper our country by our own hands”, replied Marzia.
Zulmai chuckled and said “have you forgotten your past, girl? Don’t you know that it is against the Islamic sanctities for a girl to work outside with a man? You women are nothing but shall make a good housewife and serve your men all life. ”
The whole class filled with laughter of the boys and Marzia also joined them laughing because her goals were too much great and she would not abandon them by these humiliations.
Several years passed and Marzia grew up gradually. Now, she understood the society and ways of surviving in it better, but was never accustomed to the superstitions and wrong customs of it. She was a mature girl now and no more wanted to become an architect, instead she wanted to become a teacher because she had understood the reason behind demolition of Buddha, the continuous wars engrossing Afghanistan for two decades, migration, discrimination, injustice, and gender violence. She wanted to be an architect of new generation’s mind through teaching and change their ideologies and way of thinking. Her decision for becoming a teacher was confirmed by her when she completed school with top numbers but was not allowed by her parents to attend university, as it was thought a great disgrace for a girl to carry on higher studies in the traditional society of Afghanistan.
Albeit Marzia could not become an architect but she surely got successful in establishing a school beneath the gigantic statue of Buddha with the help of local NGOs.
The school which was Marzia’s dream stood right in front of Buddha. Daily she attended the school with great enthusiasm and taught her students with the hope for a change and a better tomorrow for Afghanistan.