I asked my son if he remembers his homeland and how he arrived here. He is four, but he said yes father, I can never forget it. It is like a movie that replays in my mind.
I, too, can never forget it.
Before August of 2021, I was working in the U.S. Embassy as an interpreter, but we received a new contract from the U.S. Marines to work as interpreters in the airport.
On August 15th, the Taliban had entered my country and on August 19th, I started my work at the airport. One of the counselors I had spoken to had assigned me to a gate called the Abbey Gate for an 8 hour shift. During that time, she told me to bring my family and they would also be allowed to enter through the gate. I told my parents, my wife, my kids, my sister and her family to all come and meet me at a particular time at the gate. There was so much fighting going on in our country and it was a very scary situation. So, my family left everything behind including all of our possessions, our property, everything and entered through the Abbey Gate with just the clothes on their back. Thanks to the counselor and the U.S. government and military, me and my family members all received a golden opportunity to leave the fighting and come to a new place.
From there, they separated me and my fellow interpreters to two different countries. Some went to Qatar and others, including myself went to Kuwait. I spent 2 ½ weeks in Kuwait helping as a translator for refugees while they went through processing, fingerprinting, and eye-scanning. Meanwhile they sent the rest of my family to Philadelphia. I came on the last flight out of Kuwait to Washington D.C. and after arriving in the United States, was reunited with my family in New Jersey at a military base. I was given a chance to choose where I and the rest of my family wanted to move. I had a close friend and some cousins in Houston, TX so I told them I wanted to move to Houston. Now that I am here with my family, I am very happy.
I look back and think how differently everything could have been. My friends and cousins who moved here came without their families. They constantly worry about their families back home. Before the situation became so chaotic, I was on the list to get an SIV and move to the United States by myself as well. I had gone through all of the processing and was just waiting for the final interview. During that time I used to ask my mom, “Mom, what will you all do without me here?” She used to tell me not to worry and to go. My plan was to come to the United States and support my family financially from here. Now, I don’t even need to think about that because my whole family is here with me.
I have dreams for my children but I don’t want to tell them. Instead, when they become older, I will ask them what they want to do. We are in the land of many opportunities and as long as they are not hurting others, I will support whatever they want to do when they grow up. I know they will do well here. But I hope to take my son, my two daughters, and my baby who will be born soon, back home when we get our greencards and the situation improves.
In fact, I cried a lot when I left. I know I was given this opportunity, but every person’s home will forever be with them. Even if you moved me to paradise, you cannot remove Afghanistan from my heart. It will always be my home.