...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


home is where your family is...

When my father boarded a plane in December of ’79, he didn’t know that it would be 30 years before he would go back home - to Kabul. My parents have spent the last 30 years creating a home here for us - and life as they knew it no longer existed except in their memories. Thanks to stories and salvaged photos from distant relatives, we are able to imagine what it was like and reflect on what it took to get here today.

My father grew up in a household of 15 brothers and sisters – each child helping to raise the other. If you couldn’t find your left shoe in the chaos, you went to school without one anyway because getting an education offered a hopeful future.

My Dad’s struggling youth pushed him to seize every opportunity to educate himself. He graduated from Kabul University and law school majoring in polictical science and was given a full scholarship to obtain 2 master degrees in Berlin and Vienna. Upon returning, he served more than 17 years in government, with his final position as Governor to a province outside of Kabul. At the age of 39, he was given my mother’s hand, the daughter of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, for marriage, after just one week of courtship. The birth of their first child, Wagma, was one of the most joyous times for my Dad… my mother recalls. Her dresses were all hand sewn and her shoes from Dad's trips throughout Europe. On his way home from work each day, he’d bring Wagma sticks of gum and colorful wrapped candies, placing them daily into her extended grateful palms.

Then one day, my father found himself hiding Wagma and I under the bed and instructing her to keep still while he went to get our mother at the local school where she taught. I was less than 2 yrs old at the time and can’t remember this particular day, but for Wagma, who was 4, it is all too clear and she can replay the banging of fists on her bedroom door and tanks rolling outside her window. Unsure of when my father was returning – she sat still – holding me. Dad kicked the door in and our entire family rushed to the Kabul airport. My father knew he had no time to spare - Communism was leaking into the country with armed Russian soldiers overtaking the country's borders. And those holding titles and influence were black-listed.

As they approached the gate, my Mom recounts how panic stricken she was when she saw Russian soldiers regulating the airports and spot checking all ticket holders. I can only imagine from Hollywood cinema, the dramatic intensity that clotted their veins. Mom and Dad holding onto their entire lives: their two daughters and two suitcases. They told the officer they were going on a trip for one week [thus the reason for only 2 suitcases] and then waited for him to decide our fate. My mom could sense from the man's eyes as he scrolled through the list of forbidden travelers, that our names were indeed included. By the miracle of God, we boarded that plane - and didn't look back.

As they say, the rest is history. We gathered at Mom and Dad's this past Sunday for brunch and enjoyed the beautiful weather on the back patio. I snapped some photos of our family together and we spent the morning reflecting and talking about our family.

While going through old photos, Roshana found a letter hidden in the pocket of one of Dad's albums. Dad shared with us how it was because of this letter from his sister, Estor, God bless her, that we were able to seek permanent asylum here in the US. My Aunt wrote a detailed account of how they searched their home, and terrorized her and his younger sister who was mistaken as my mother.

After his story, Masaud led our family into a special prayer. We put our heads and hearts together, around the living room and prayed for Dad's safe passage and return back home to us.

Ava helped tow his suitcase to the front door. She felt so important and helpful - she wouldn't stop smiling. She looked up at Dad and he looked back at her - and like a hole in time, I drifted back and wondered how it was 30 years ago - leaving home with our suitcases. For me not comprehending what was happening to our family and for Dad, who imagined the worst if he didn't get us out in time. And here I was, 30 years later, watching my daughter with my father, pulling his suitcase for his trip back to Afghanistan.

We crumbled when we hugged him good-bye. It was a very surreal moment - for all of us. And it still is as I write this and my heart aches with worry because we haven't heard from him.

At age 73, he left home on his own will – to go back to Kabul where his roots were once planted. We hope that this journey will fulfill a cornerstone in his heart of wonder so that when he returns this summer, we can sit down and write our entire family's story together, including this most recent chapter of finding the courage and right time to return - home.


  1. Dear Zarlacht,

    As I am reading this I cannot hold back my tears.
    My mom told me he was leaving but I missed the opportunity to call him and wish him a safe trip.
    How so true it is (home is where your family is) your heart is.
    The same is true for ones country.
    Its home to and is heart (love) of our parents.
    Like you said for us is just memories, but what a wonderful childhood memories. I still sometimes dream about our home back in Kabul. I use to play with my cousin. I still remember where everything where in each room. It is hard to understand how difficult it is to leave everything you have, without knowing what future holds. Truly our parents were so courageous people to do so.

    I am looking at each of these pictures and crying my eyes out.
    Oh how good your write, it just hit so much home to me.
    I love you guys (your family) so much. Wish my uncle a safe return back here at home.

    Lots of love

  2. All i can really say is wow.
    This is such an amazing story...

    I guess we all knew that this day would eventually come. I can only imagine what it must be like to return home after so many years. I am counting down the days for his safe return so we can sit around the table and drink tea listening to all the new stories he will bring back.

    Thanks for sharing this with us, your audience... it truly is an amazing story.

  3. Dear Nadia jon, You make me cry. I'm so touched by your words and understanding of what our parents have gone through. They are amazing people because of it, and we can only pass this on to our children - always reciting what their grandparents' lives were like back in Kabul. It's so easy to forget. But with our children - we owe it to them to remind them of their roots and place in this world. Even though Mom and Dad have made "home" here for the past 30 years - they still feel like this isn't "home." I don't blame them. It is so unfortunate how this holds true for millions around the world today.

    I loved your Father very much - and I know how proud he was of his country. He was the first outside of our immediate family - who made Aaron feel so welcome and a part of the Afghan culture. I will never forget that evening when we were invited to his home for dinner, and he made the time to get to know him and say, "Aaron, you have a very humble character - Afghan or not. In fact, you are like 10 Afghans put together..." ;)

    I smile everytime I think about that. I'm so proud to call you family. My love to you always, Zarlacht

  4. Nadia

    I wholeheartedly agree with what Zarlacht said. I do miss him so much. It was our first trip to your house where i sat in the living room amidst a whirlwind of Farsi being thrown every which way. He sat next to me and put his hand on my shoulder and spoke to me as if there was nobody else in the room (and there were LOTS of people in the room!!). We sat and talked for about 15 minutes while people practically made a line to switch places with me. Everyone wanted to speak with your Dad that night... and they did eventually. But not until he made me feel at home. And he did.

  5. Zarlacht quand
    The smiles of our children helped distract us from our restless and heavy hearts as we all came together to see dad off ....
    Reading our story -made me grateful and proud and so I thank you...........

  6. I'm so proud of your writing.
    I can't stop showing off your blogs to people who could use good talk. They all enjoy it and I'm proud to call you sister. All my love

  7. I love you Roshana - you mean so much to me. There's nothing more that I can ask for from you than a proud baby sister that's so close to me - thank you!

  8. Zarlacht jaan,
    I finally got a chance to read your blogs. This was really touching. It reminded me all over again of how we left Afghanistan 30 years ago after my father was killed.
    I am crying as I am writing to you. I can’t wait to read about him returning back from Afghanistan. I just love your writing. You are really good at this and I am sure you will have a book publised real soon.

    Keep up the good work.


  9. Dear Hassina jon,
    Thank YOU so much for taking the time to read my stories and sharing with me your tears and compliments. You are a wonderful cousin and dear friend for telling me - which motivates me to keep doing this - thank you!

  10. Zarlacht,

    Even though we haven't always kept in touch, I feel so honored and blessed to know you. Even more so since seeing you yesterday. Your life story and that of your family moves me every single time. But reading this for the first time brought me to tears. It was very touching.

    Your parents are amazing and courageous after all they have battled. They even raised 3 beautiful daughters in that process. You remind me that life is full of precious little moments that fulfill our hearts, minds and souls and take our breath away.

    I am looking forward to keeping you and Aaron in my life as amazing friends!

  11. Zar jan, I enjoyed reading your articles.
    thanks for a great job

  12. Fatima jan - thanks so much for stopping by my dear cousin! I'm so glad you commented on this article - its one of my favorites, and re-reading it just now, and looking at those photos - it just makes me cry all over again! Family is so important to us - and we cherish yours, and hope we see you all again real soon! We still need to make a trip to see you in VA! My love to you and everyone - Zarlacht


Thanks for sharing - I will respond to your comment here as well so check back! xo


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