INTERVIEW WITH OUR MAN FROM AFGHANISTAN (OMFA) ON AUGUST 8, 2002 BY ESKIMO PIE GIRL

EPG: So can you tell me where you were born and what it was like there?

OMFA: I was born in Afghanistan, the state is _____ [details have been removed at the request of the interviewee], and what was it like? It’s just a poor country and you know it’s not really, I mean about 25 or 30 years ago most of the country was I would say the same. But 25 years ago start a war, which I left in 1979—Afghanistan, I go to Pakistan with my family because the government become Communist. And they don’t like us because we are part of the family of the King. And we left the country and we were in Pakistan, so I was there for 5 years in Pakistan. So my sister was here [U.S.] and she left Afghanistan in ’78 and she come from Pakistan to the United States and when she was here, I decided to come. And my father was in Pakistan also with the rest of my family and so we going back and forth to Afghanistan, but not the way we supposed to go. We go a different way with, which we call "Imzaidin," fighting with Russians. So we went with the car or the truck, we go you know where we have to do and come back to Pakistan. So we started a new life in Pakistan, but we don’t realize it’s gonna be that long But it just takes so long you know to . . . in 1991, Russia left Afghanistan go back home, you know still people was not sure you know what happened. O.K. stop the tape. [Interviewee is becoming visibly distressed.]

EPG: I was just wondering what the country was like, the geography, or was it like a big city that you were living in. But you moved to Pakistan, so what was that like there? I mean mountains or desert?

OMFA: Afghanistan was, the city where I lived, that I born, to the history, was over 1200 years. And there’s the mountains close to us and there’s a lot of flat also; and it’s just a place that I born, the house that I born was over 200 years old that we got from my great great grandfather, was you know they built in that time, and we still living there, and they stole it from our family. And I mean there’s more madness that went on . . . . And when we go to Pakistan, close to Afghanistan, it’s almost the same culture, it’s the same people, you know, just a border. Same people, and those people that is pressure in Afghanistan they go to Pakistan; if there’s pressure on Pakistan, they come to Afghanistan. And because they can do whatever they want. It’s totally different from here. It’s not like you know, Tijuana, Mexico. It’s not like that. ‘Cus you can tell right away because we use the same language. We are the same. We look the same. Use the same language. And we can tell, like you know, this guy’s not from this country, those people from the border come to the city. When I go to Pakistan to a different city, there’s uh using a different language, a different people. Those people, when India and Pakistan getting separated, they are not like the people that close to Afghanistan, close to the border in Afghanistan. They are a totally different people. And they use different language, and sure if you go there and stay there, you gonna learn the language. And so that’s not a problem. I came here [the U.S.] the first time, I said, "Wow, this is not gonna be . . . ." I wish that that day come that I can have a little conversation, have a talk in English. Here I am talking, and you interviewing me. [Laughter] And I am uh, I guess I been here in this country 17 years. Now we go back [to talking about] Pakistan. In the beginning when we go to Pakistan, we didn’t realize it’s gonna be that long, so the money that we had, it’s all gone, all spent, it’s really hard to find a job. It’s really hard to do things the way we did in Afghanistan. So there’s people respecting us, they way we come, who we was, and we go there, and they give you a big house, eleven-bedroom house, they give to us for free, because they know where we come from, you know, who you are. We come from Afghanistan, and we are the family from the King, which is you know generations about what, 200 years being the King, you know generation to generation. And so that’s why they respect us too much. And they give us eleven-bedroom house, big, huge, and we are live there for 3 years, which is close to the border. And that time when we lived there, and they are, the Afghan throw the bombs on the house because we are supporting the Jahaidins who are back and forth through Afghanistan, back in ’81, ’82 to ’83. And so when they throw the bombs, then the neighborhood started complain. They say, you guys not supposed to be here. If you guys come to live here, then we gonna be in trouble, they gonna throw the bombs again. So after, they give us one month. So it was a big family, so we gotta separate. So we each one, each brother, you know, going on their own way. So we gotta separated, and we go to the city, and we just got their own whatever they have to do. And we go to a different city. So what I did, I just go live in that area, go to the other side of Pakistan. So I started working with my friend, doing the tailor work, making clothes, stuff like that. So I was there for about 16 months. I finally leave the country because I know the Communist country not going to be o.k. Who knows how long it’s gonna take? And so I started go talk to my dad, and then I leave, I don’t how long it’s gonna take, you know. We don’t realize it’s gonna be that long. So we just leave the country. I leave the country because it’s only death. And so I travel, you know, go to Turkey, Germany, England for a little while. Then I go to New York. Live with my sister for 5 or 6 months. Then I started my own life. I started work and was just being a bad boy for a little while [Eskimo Girl starts laughing].

EPG: O.K., I was wondering if you could tell me about your religion, tell me about Islam, and maybe what it was like when you were living in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and maybe some of the things that you did every day for your religion, and some of the things you believe.

OMFA: O.K., the religion that I follow, that I believe, is the Moslem, which is, everybody know now . . . . What I believe, what I follow, what I am in training for, which is you know, everybody have their own religion, is . . . not everybody, you know, there’s some people believe different religions. A Muslim, Moslem religion is not what the people think that live here. There is bad people everywhere. What I believe, I practice my own religion, I pray every day if I can, 5 time a day. That doesn’t mean that I am against to a different religion. We believe God, and I believe God. A lot of people believe in God. What I believe, my religion, what I believe, and it’s just a peacable religion. That doesn’t mean, you know, I mean, just pray, don’t hurt anybody, don’t bother anybody, and go to work, come home, spend time with your family. So you don’t have to hurt anybody, if somebody did something wrong, you don’t have to do anything, just practice your own religion. And 5 time a day is when I pray.

EPG: And so there are also special days during the year or special months where you fast or things like that? Can you tell me about some of those?

OMFA: Yeah, there’s what we calling Ramadin, that’s once a year, we won’t eat in the morning from 4:00 in the morning to sundown. So we do that for one month, fasting. We can eat anything after when the sun goes down, we can eat anything, well not anything, but you know, what we have. Then you pray, go to sleep, or whatever you have to do. So we do that for one month. After this month, the Ramadin end, then we have 3-day celebration, which is we call, "Iad" [pronounced "id"]. So we do that every year, and after 2 months later, we go, there’s millions of people go to mecca in Saudi Arabia, and they pray there. We go there, pray for at least 20 days straight. I mean, I wish I there, but after I go there so I got to be a really good person right now to my heart, I know. But if go there, I gotta be more nicer; not to drink alcohol, not to cheat, not to do anything bad that we believe, you not supposed to do anything bad. If you break the rules or the law that we believe, then you are just no good, so we have to do that for the rest of your life, if you go there, promise. If we gonna go there, we pray to God, we say God forgive me whatever I have done in the past. I’m not gonna do it any more in the future, so please forgive me. And so we stay there for a month or 20 days, pray every day, with different buildings we need to go. And after when we done this, then you have to be 100 percent good. Don’t miss the pray that you are supposed to do 5 time a day, and pray and treat the people right, and do nice things.

EPG: So are you only allowed to marry Muslims? I just wondered about that. Are there rules regarding marriage?

OMFA: We can marry any woman, but she has to change her religion, has to be a Muslim. Like, just as a case, if I marry you, you have to become Muslim. I have to marry a Muslim.

EPG: So is there like a special ceremonies or something that I would go through to become a Moslem?

OMFA: All you have to do when come to be Moslem, is say La la illa lo Mohammed il su li vo. If you say that and the people around you, the priest, they say, o.k. this lady is become Moslem, now you are allowed to marry her. But the thing is, if you say the words, that have to come out from your heart, and you have to follow the religion. If you don’t, then it doesn’t make any difference.

EPG: So Mohammed, he was like a prophet who, like God spoke to him and told him what to write down? Is that how it is? Or maybe you can explain that to me.

OMFA: Yes Mohammed was the last prophet, the last prophet come into this world, and he was bring Moslem religion to this world. So he was first and the last prophet Muslim in this world. So that was 1,380 years ago. He was a Jew. So he became a Moslem. What they don’t, of course the Jewish people they don’t like his own people change their religion, so they have a fighting each other. So he have, you know, he change more people to become Muslim. Then he was really a good person, then I guess you know he started talking to angels and talking to God and there’s a message coming to him, God and a hand. And he can hear whatever God tell him he’s writing in the book, which is named the Koran. So he write everything in that book. And so that’s the only book that come out, and the rest of the book is coming from the Koran, so there’s other people just trying to separate the words and make more books out of it. So that was Mohammed was become Moslem 1300 years ago, it was over 1300 years.

EPG: I noticed in there, they had a book, something about The Poets, called The Poets, one of the names of the books. But they didn’t say anything about any poets or poetry in there. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that one.

OMFA: I don’t think I know about that one. Maybe I heard, maybe I know the book, but maybe we’re calling it a different name.

EPG: When you came to America, did your religion change at all for you, or you change some of the things that you did?

OMFA: In the beginning when I came, yes, I was, you know a single guy, and I was 20 years old, and I started drinking alcohol, you know which sometimes I do right now, but you know, that’s bad for me. Our religion, you know, we’re not supposed to drink. I did a lot of bad things, but I don’t do drugs. Well, I did change much, and later on I decided, "Say heh, what are you doing? And this is not the thing that you’re supposed to do." Then I go back you know and I’m still dealing with everything right here. And dealing [with] my own religion.

EPG: So maybe could you talk about the current situation in Afghanistan and this "War on Terror," maybe how it’s affected your family, or what you think of that?

OMFA: Well, the war on terrorists . . . . Afghan people are just the innocent people, you know, they don’t have nothing to do with September 11. But those Arab people that go there with the money which is Afghan people need help. United States help Afghan people having a war with Russia. In that time when the Russia left and the United States turn around and say, o.k., you guys dealing with each other. Every single person in Afghanistan in that time when Russia left, every single person have a weapon, every single state have their own power, keep the people for their own, take care of their own state. Before the Taliban come up into Afghanistan, there was so much going on in Afghanistan. There was a lot of things going on, there was a lot of raping, there was a lot of robbery, there was a lot of killing. Every single street have a chain, the bus going pass by, the people go search. If a person have a thousand afghani, that person with the weapon get in the bus, get the money outta the person’s pocket, count the money, give 500 for his own self, 500 give back to them. When they go to the next street, the time they pass in all the situation, a person have nothing left. Those people going inside the house when they see a beautiful girl, they grab them and take them from the brother, the son, the father, in front of them, if they say anything, they just shoot them right there. They take them away, the girl, 15 years, 16 years, 12, 13, whatever, they take them away, rape her for a week, 2 weeks, some of them they just disappear, they kill them, and some of them coming back with a pregnant baby in the stomach. So that’s the reason the Taliban come out. When the Taliban come out in the beginning, they say we gonna fighting for Zahishad, the King, the old ex-king, he used to be the king in Afghanistan, and the Taliban tell him we are fighting for him. That’s the reason there was a lot of people which was 72% of the country, the people want the King coming back to Afghanistan. And those people drop their weapons. They don’t want to fight, they don’t anything, and that’s the reason the Taliban come out. And the other idiot, Osama Bin Ladin, they come out to Afghanistan, and he have a lot of money, he have a lot of people, and they train the people in Afghanistan. The Taliban doesn’t have enough power to take control from Bin Ladin because he have the money, he have the people, and he was have his own government in Afghanistan. The people doesn’t want . . . . The Omar, which is the beginning of the Taliban, he was just an uneducated person, doesn’t have any education, doesn’t have nothing, he just used to be the Mujahidin member, he was just a soldier, so that’s the reason it started with seven people come out to be a Taliban. And when Bin Ladin come over to Afghanistan, push the money to him. What I heard, I mean, I wasn’t there, I’m here in this country, what I heard from the people, what they saying, push the money, they say, o.k., we gonna control this country, we want to destroy you and bring your religious people to . . . . so that was the reason the Taliban come out. And in the capital where the Northern Alliance was the controlling of the capital. Those people was when they see any person that’s speaking Pushto, they get into the house, whatever they have in the house, they grab it, and they take them away, they rob the women, they rape the women, and they cut the breasts, and they do whatever they can. So the Taliban come out, they push them go back to where they belong which is really high mountain, it’s really hard to get there. So that was the Taliban story. Now, the deal is right now, the situation right in this moment, they got the king to inviting to Afghanistan, they say he can come to Afghanistan, you can get your own. So there’s about 75 to 80% people want the king back to be in power because the people respect him, the people want him, and the people can drop the weapons, they don’t want any more fight because everybody’s tired for the last 25, 30 years being [at] war. If that person have a weapon right now, that was about 25 years ago, he born in that time. All he know is to shoot a person. All he is knows is to kill somebody. There is no education. There is no money. There is no family. There is nobody except killing the people. So what the people think make them look bad and make it look good Northern Alliance, which is yes we agree the helping the United States to get in our country. They do it for their own pocket. They don’t worry about the Pushtins which is the rest of the . . . . Those people that come into the Northern Alliance not belong to Afghanistan. They are refugees coming from Tajikstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkimanistan. When the Russia come, you know, take over those countries, they come to Afghanistan as refugees. These are three different groups from three different countries they are there. They want the power right now. Those three groups want to control the rest of the country, which is the Pushtin area is about 72-75% of the country, they want to control. That’s not going to happen. It’s just power, they have the weapons right now, and they do a lot of bad things right now—they’re killing, they’re raping, still going on. The Pushtin area state, they are not happy with the new government in Afghanistan, which is they doing bad things to they own people, they coming to them. So that’s you know just like in this country, the people coming from outside of this country coming in here, started work and later on they want to control the rest of the country, like Hispanic or African American, that’s not gonna happen. You know, this country have a fight for this country. They lost thousand thousand people to get in this country, and they not going to give power to Hispanic or African Americans. It’s not going to happen. The same as in Afghanistan. You know, that’s not going to happen. Because now there’s a different situation right now, but you know, we needed help from the United States to help those people to support the Pushtins who belong to this country for the last 1300 years. The people they need to survive, they need to grow up and build their own country right now. And those people in Northern
Alliance do not belong to the country. It’s not right. It’s not gonna happen.

EPG: So do you think you’ll be able to go back there sometime? I mean, does it seem to be getting any better? Or you say there’s still a lot of killing, and everything’s uncertain there right now?

OMFA: Yes, I still have brothers there, and I still have a feeling that I will go there. But I’m not gonna go for the rest of my life, you know, I’ll probably go visit there, stay with my family, you know, brothers, and I have a life right here, you know. I have a different life. I spent most of my life in this country and I’m a good citizen. And I go there and spend some time with family, and I visit and I look around, and if they need help, I’m helping them with whatever I can, you know, send them some money sometime, if I have a little bit of extra, I send it to them. And they do need my help, and I want them to survive. And I do want to go sometime. Maybe soon, maybe later. And I would like to go for a visit there. And I want to come back, and I have a life right here. And now I am two—half there, half there, and my blood is right here now, my wife if I get married, and I have a life right here, so I don’t know if I can go for the rest of my life ‘cus it’s gonna take a long time to build back to normal. It’s not gonna be easy, so I would rather stay here. I’m an American citizen right now, I have citizenship right here, and I’m a good citizen just like everybody else. When I was a teenager, I remember, seeing the [Russian] tanks coming to the city. I don’t want ever to see that again. All the people want is peace—to build their lives, their families. After 22-25 years of fighting, there is nothing left but mud, just mud.




Copyright EPG and OMFA