City Life – Bamiyan Boys, Sunder Nursery
The dreams of some Afghans.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
When you hear the word Bamiyan, what do you see in your mind’s eye?
May be, the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
These were two monumental statues of Gautama Buddha, dating from the 6th century and carved into a sandstone cliff in the Bamiyan valley of Afghanistan. In 2001, both statues were destroyed by the Taliban government.
Cut to 2021. About a dozen young men are picnicking on the grass, hundreds of miles away from Bamiyan, in Sunder Nursery park in central Delhi. They all are natives of that same Bamiyan region, and all have seen the Bamiyan Buddhas. “We have seen the place where the Buddhas used to be,” clarifies one of them.
Lots of Afghans have left their homeland for fear of violence, and many have found a home in Delhi—some lanes in Lajpat Nagar and Bhogal could be mistaken for mohallas in Kabul or Kandahar. These young men are some of them; they live in Malviya Nagar. They have been following the news of the Taliban’s looming comeback in Afghanistan. “We are tensed about our relatives and friends,” says one of the men.
Sitting in a semicircle, each person appears to be a living embodiment of his own village or town in Afghanistan. Being with them is like being transported into their land. The men gamely agree to reveal where they grew up in Afghanistan (which wasn’t necessarily the Bamiyan region), and what is their dream as they build a new life in Delhi.
Salman Rahmani, 20 years old, coming from Shibar village: “I want to be a doctor.”
Shams, 22, from Parwan province: “I want to marry… I want to marry a particular girl I have known for some time.”
Ahmadi, 20, from Kabul: “I have no ambition.”
Raees, 21, from Samangan province: “I want to be an engineer who works with cars.”
Khal Padshah, 30, from Turkman village: “I’m not young anymore, but I’m still single. My dream is to get married.”
Humayun Muhammadi, 25, from Kaloo village. “I want to be a motivational speaker.”
Niyaz Ali, 40, from Wazirabad district: “I have four sons, I have no dreams.”
Mustafa Azhar, 24, from Kaloo: “I’m a communist, so I want to be happy and see others happy.”
Ziauddian, 26, from Shibar: “I hope to be a football player.”
Bamiyan in Delhi
1. Salman Rahmani
5. Khal Padshah
6. Humayun Muhammadih
7. Niyaz Ali
8. Mustafa Azhar