I can’t believe it! I can’t believe my ears! I am so excited, and there are no words to express my happiness. One of the greatest dreams of my life has come true. The sweet language of Pashto has returned to Herat. Now I can proudly say to everyone that Herat City is the birthplace of Ahmad Shah Baba(Ahamd shah Durrani/abdali) and the burial place of Kakar and that more than fifty percent of the population of Herat City is Pashtun.
I want to tell all my friends who would laugh if someone mentioned anything about Pashto being spoken in Herat province that they were right, it was indeed an unheard of occurrence but not anymore. Even I used to say that we Herati Pashtuns are unfortunate people. Unfortunate because we lost our ancestral language of Pashto. In the whole city of Herat there was not even a single Pashto newspaper or magazine to be found anywhere. Herat, called the city of literature, the city of knowledge, and the city of culture completely turned it’s back to Pashto language and literature .
Herat City is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan, and even though Pashto is an official language of Afghanistan, there was not even a single Pashto article in our government magazine and never more than a short news program on our government TV channel. There were many other television channels and many other magazines, but even though the majority of the people of Herat are Pashtuns, none of those were in Pashto either. Any sort of Pashto learning center existed only in our imagination. Pashto seemed almost to be a forbidden language in my city, the so called City of Knowledge.
I will never forget what happened one afternoon when I was at a memorial conference for a Dari poet. At one point in the program, a young Pashtun man came onto the stage and recited a lovely poem in Pashto, praising the life of the respected Dari poet. An Irani diplomat, who was present in the conference shamefully and loudly said; “This is a conference for a Farsi poet and this is Herat so why is he talking in Pashto!”
Today with great happiness and joy, I want to tell everyone that most of Herat’s Pashtuns now speak the sweet language of Pashto. Every weekend, all over Herat province, we have Pashto poetry gatherings and every month we have a large and productive gathering to discuss Pashto and Pashtunwali. Once every year the city of Herat hosts an International Pashto Conference. Now we have Pashto TV channels, Pashto magazines, and Pashto medium schools all over Herat, and more than fifty percent of government TV programs and government magazines are in my beloved language of Pashto.
All this is a reality. I am not dreaming. I am not dreaming. Just as I say this sentence to myself a third time ….., I wake up. Alone in my room, my happiness suddenly turns to great sorrow. It was all a dream. All of beloved Pashto’s miseries still exist in Herat. Pashto is still not welcome in my city and most of it’s Pashtun residents still do not know how to speak their own language.There is no Pashto TV, no Pashto poetry gatherings, no Pashto language conferences, not even a regional one and schools in Pashto medium do not exist.
Recently some Pashtuns in Herat have started a Pashto language magazine called Harrirod named for a river that flows through the province. It the first and so far the only Pashto language publication in Herat. I know I am not alone in these dreams that Pashto language media and learning resources will be available to all Pashtuns everywhere, and I have faith that someday, InshaAllah, this dream of ours will become a reality.
by Eimal Dorani