Are You Afghan?

Photo Courtesy of Flickr / Zelnunes

It wasn’t my intended opening line; I sort of blurted it out. I didn’t make a habit of asking random strangers if they had some ancestry connected with Afghanistan. You see, when I heard a word in Dari, from the guy I had seen walking past me briefly towards the check- in counter at Dulles International Airport, I had turned around, since it was a rarity for me to hear Dari. He had continued speaking in English, so I had proceeded to check-in without a second thought. My mind was preoccupied with the recurring thoughts of how miserable I would be for the next 14 hours on my flight to the United Arab Emirates. Particularly my posterior. I was recovering from a pretty embarrassing tailbone injury, resulting from a wild night, and tripping over a dog. At least that’s what I had told my friends. They believed me because; in the past I had tripped over a cat and numerous other things, so at this point they weren’t surprised. The truth was I had binged- watched Gilmore Girls, while sitting on a horribly broken couch, and I was quite ashamed to admit it, though not sure about which part: Gilmore Girls, or not investing in a proper couch.

So lost in thought was I, that I hadn’t noticed I was stuck in the longest line. Behind a family set to go to India. The father was flustered, because every time he went thought the metal detector, the alarm went off. He proceeded to take off more clothing; off came his jacket, his shirt, his socks. I was beginning to think I might get a strip show… which I was not entirely looking forward to. After him was his daughter who kept explaining to TSA how there were no skittles in India, and so she absolutely had to pack over 20 packs of skittles to take with her.  I thought I had problems.

I was finally through and at the platform awaiting the next train that would take me to my gate. The train approached and I quickly walked in, without really noticing the guy getting in behind me. I made my way to the end, so did he. We stood there directly across from one another. He was gazing the other way, he seemed preoccupied. It gave me time to consider his appearance: he had a distinctly far-eastern look, but I wasn’t quite sure where exactly he was from. I considered the possibility that he could be Afghan-American, such as myself, but the possibly was a chance in a million. If you ask him now he will be sure to tell you that I stood five feet away from him and stared at him without blinking. He was both afraid and in awe that I could go so long without blinking.

I went back in forth in my mind about asking him and finally, just as we were about to step off the train I blurted, ‘Hey, are you Afghan?’ It turned out he was. He also happened to be on the exact same flight going to Dubai, and same seat row as myself.

We spent the entire flight talking, then the following months getting to know one another. He then moved halfway across the world to be closer to me; recently we got engaged and moved back stateside.

While teaching in the UAE for the past three years, my former coworker had believed that every time it rained, I should dance under the rain because it would help me get married. I wasn’t sure if I believed her – but, before I entered the airport that day I met my now fiancé, it rained. And we never had a chance to dance in the rain, but we did however dance in the desert under the stars the first week we met, with the loud ‘Nurrrrr’ of the camels in the background and the spray from their mouths.



Saliha Bazmjow wrote this piece for Flux, a forum for those of us encountering adulthood. Saliha is the jack of all trades. When she isn’t writing, practicing yoga, traveling, painting, baking, or dancing she loves looking up life quotes. She grew up in California, lived in Turkey, Venezuela, and the UAE and now lives in the DC metropolitan area. Her new favorite quote goes, “Life is a story, make yours a bestseller”.



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