Chetor hasteen, Bilal?
When you taught us bits of Dari every day at camp, you always refused to teach us how to say, “goodbye.”
We asked you why, especially since the words for “see you later” were so difficult for our Western pronunciation.
You said so poetically, “I don’t like to say goodbye.”
You were a poetic soul, weren’t you? When we interviewed you–we promised you we would publish it in full, and we will, in your honor and memory, don’t you worry, we owe you–you expressed the anguish, adrenaline, loneliness and aimlessness of refugee life in eloquent words that only a journalist and a dreamer could muster.
You were 23 years old and already so full of generosity and hope. The camp school exists in part because of your hard work and patience. Your dream to open a cardiac hospital in Afghanistan testifies to your restless ambition and pure character.
We are paralyzed at the news of your drowning in Greece, just a few miles from the refugee camp and only a few more from your dream of freedom to work in the EU. All you wanted, you told our camera, was freedom to live and work without fear of the Taliban, who sent you death threats.
You taught us about hope, though. So we hope looking forward to a place with no borders, no moldy donation food, no terrorists, no fights.
A place where we can share another tea, with a good Afghan meal (we will have third helpings this time!), and you can tell us how you’ve been.
And Bilal, our dost friend: lotfan, we still owe you that drink.
Love, amor and dooset daraam,
Cristian and Shanna