By Eisha Sarkar
The ability to be the most hopeful in the most abysmal circumstances is a character of the human spirit. Since the beginning of my engagement with Pax Populi I have been very surprised at Muhammad Qasem Jami’s optimism. Here is a man, who has grown up in a country ravaged by four decades of war and under the severe oppression of the Taliban, now working hard to feed and educate his ten siblings, talking about the beauty and poetry of Afghanistan!
Despite a high-pressure job and many volunteer engagements through the week, Jami has the time to outline his vision for the future of Afghanistan. “It’s getting better slowly. One day, it will be very good.” I asked him if his friends and students share the same vision. “Well, unfortunately, and you can’t blame them for feeling that way, the youth in Afghanistan feel very demotivated. They start something but when it does not work out they just give up. They’ve seen their parents do that again and again and again. I keep telling them that you have to keep trying: trying for a good job, trying to earn more money, trying to educate more people and trying to get peace.”
With all this talk of future I asked him what he thought of taqdeer, the Urdu word which means destiny. “In Farsi, taqdeer means fate, sarnawisht means destiny,” he pointed out. Since my knowledge of Urdu is limited to just the colloquial, I chose to go with my human Farsi-Dari dictionary. “I believe in taqdeer because of which you and I have met but a man can make his own destiny,” Jami said. So what destiny did he want to make? “Because of the war and human rights issues, people here are not proud to call themselves Afghan. When I was in Bangalore in India and I told people that I am from Afghanistan, they asked me where my turban was. I told them I don’t wear a turban. They were surprised. This perception intimidated some of my fellow Afghan exchange students. We were a very proud race. I want Afghanistan to become a country we all are very proud of. I want it to have the best leaders and the best education system in the world.”