I’m not sure this a thing that makes me happy but it is something that moves me greatly.
Taken from Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson who also wrote Three Cups of Tea. The poem was written by former mujahadeen Sadhar Khan a village/district headman in the far northeastern area of Afghanistan known as the Wakhan corridor. He wanted to be a historian and a poet before he had to become a warrior.
Sadhar Khan fought the Soviet and then he fought the Taliban, almost thirty years of war. The river runs by the path Khan takes when he goes to prayer. He took Mortenson with him one day; they stopped to watch the water. Mortenson asked him how he found the time to sit by the river in the midst of his very busy days. For the next two hours Sadhar Khan told the stories of thirty years of war. The friends and family that had been lost to both the Soviets and the Taliban. Land mines, destroyed crops, wrecked houses and schools. When Mortenson came back the next year to work on the school being built near Baharak he was given this poem.
You wonder why I sit,
Here on this rock,
By the side of this river,
There is so much work to be done for my people.
We have so little food,
We have so few jobs,
Our fields are in shambles
And still there are landmines everywhere.
So I am here to listen to
And the singing trees.
This is the sound of peace
In the presence of Allah.
After thirty years as a mujahadeen,
I have grown old from fighting.
I resent the sounds of destruction.
I am so weary of war.
Perhaps Sadhar Kahn listens to the water for all the villagers and friends who can’t listen to the river anymore.
P.S. I did catch Mr. Mortenson on Bill Moyers last Friday. It was a great program.