It feels like only yesterday when I was just writing my very first “Happy Birthday” letter to the most beautiful and intelligent little human being I know: My beloved, darling daughter. And now, another year has gone by, and here I am, once again, celebrating the life — the gorgeous existence — of this flawless gift that nature was so incredibly kind to bestow upon us. And, honestly, dear reader, there are no words, absolutely no words at all to describe the feeling. This is the only time I can feel selfish when it comes to her, the feeling of glee and complete euphoria that washes over me knowing that she is mine, all mine, every single part of her, created from my own flesh and blood, and the fact that nothing could and will ever change that. The fact that I can proudly utter the words daughter, because it’s the only word that has ever given my life meaning and purpose. And it has. So. Much. Incredible. Meaning.
As a mother, it’s only natural for us to go all out when it comes to praising our children, but each time someone asks me about my beloved Zohal, I go speechless. There is just so much good about her, so much good, that it would take me volumes to describe just how brilliant, beautiful, and intelligent she is. The way she smiles/laughs, the way she talks, the way she walks/runs, the way she points at things, the way she grabs my hand when she wants something, the way she pretty much does everything is just too beautiful to even comprehend. And it would be impossible to put everything I feel into one little measly blog post. But I’ll try. I’ll try, because I want this perfect (yes, perfect) little human being to know some day how much she means to her mother and of course her equally darling father. I want her to read these letters I write to her some day, and realize what a beautiful impact she’s made on our lives. I want her to understand that she makes me incredibly selfless, humble, and patient — qualities that I used to struggle with a lot before she came into my life, and turned everything right side up. I want her to read these letters and truly realize how special and important her existence is; the fact that her gender has not and will never matter, despite coming from a culture where the male gender is the one deemed worthy of praise and preference. I want her to know that, and so much more. So, without further ado, here’s my second official letter to her.:)
Zohal zama zaRgaye, zama da stargo ranRa (Zohal, my beloved and the light of my eyes),
Today you will turn two. TWO! My goodness, aren’t you a big girl now? Although it’s only been a year since your first birthday, so much has happened this past year that your moray/mommy Samar has no idea where to even begin! When I first brought you home, you were a ‘newborn’, and then around 6-18 months, you were dubbed an ‘infant’, and now you are a ‘toddler’ — while still a baby, but not quite. But, you’ll always be my baby, though. Always.
Zohal, zama janaan (my sweetheart), since the day you arrived, you have filled both your baba/daddy Abaseen’s life and mine with so much elation. Watching you grow into a sweet-natured, exceptionally intelligent, and physically beautiful toddler has been the highlight of our lives — nothing has mattered since then. And it never will. Your phenomenal existence has surmounted every single priority that’s ever existed in our lives. And it will continue to do so till eternity (or at least for as long as we are alive), because you are our world, the centre of our universe. Always remember that.
ZaRgiya, there are times that I want to re-live each and every moment, each and every milestone that you have achieved thus far, and just play it on repeat, because it’s all just so surreal and incredible. When I’d first brought you home, exactly two years ago, you were so tiny and so delicate that it was impossible for me to imagine that you’d be walking, running, and talking some day. And within only a blink of an eye, that beautiful day has finally come! You took your very first steps as soon as you turned 14 months. Both your baba and I watched you, with a sense of awe and incredulity the way you decided that crawling wasn’t your thing anymore and it was time to use your legs; you pushed, really hard, on your hands to pull yourself up and when you finally did, you tried equally hard to balance yourself as you tried to take your first step, only to fall flat on your sweet little bum. But you refused to give up. Oh no, siree bob! You refused to cry either. You’d just keep pulling yourself back up, until you finally managed to master those steps. And we couldn’t have been prouder. Oh, and yes, da zRa takor meh (piece of my heart), I caught it all on video/camera. Every single moment of it. Because I don’t trust memory. I never want to forget. And I want you to see these photos and videos, all of them, once you are old enough. Of course, I do show you some of your younger videos from time to time, and your reaction to them has always been heart-meltingly adorable; you’d point at your sweet, younger self on the screen, look at me with those beautiful long-lashed eyes and laugh. Wai zaar!
So, not only did you start walking this year, but you also travelled too! And that too on a plane, at only 18 months! And your mommy couldn’t be more prouder. London and Birling Gap — the two of the lovely places we visited in the United Kingdom — were so incredibly lucky to bear witness to your presence. Of course, you slept most of the time while we were there, but still. My lovely friends, who were also lucky enough to meet you, were also quite taken and impressed with you too; they told me that you were, and I quote, “the sweetest and calmest baby I’ve ever known.” And you truly are. Even now. Although, you are a lot more active and playful now, but you are a darling. I often brag to my close friends, acquaintances and strangers about you, and tell them that I don’t know what it’s like staying up all night (and day) taking care of a crying baby. You have been a calm and perfect baby since day one. Crying was never your strong point. If anything, it bores you. You are a toughie, and I love that about you. You know what else I absolutely adore about you? The fact that you are so adaptable and so easy to love. This was further proven to me when you started daycare a few months ago. Yes, this was also the year that you started daycare — a place that I never knew I could ever trust with my child. But now I fully support it. You cried a bit in the beginning, but within a week or two you were fully set. I have to admit, in the beginning, I’d have panic attacks when you weren’t around, and I’d try to limit your daycare hours to only half days, so that I could see you as soon as I could. But, as time progressed and the months progressed, and I saw how incredibly happy you were there, I decided that perhaps you could stay an hour or two longer. Oh, and I am sure you already know this, but all the teachers at the daycare love you; you’re literally a teacher’s pet. And why wouldn’t you be? You are absolutely perfect. You are beautiful. You are kind-natured and you love to share. You are beyond intelligent — perhaps even the brightest child in your daycare class, so it’s only natural for the whole world to be taken with you. You are what most people see and wish you were their own. And that’s not a lie, as I am often told this time and time again.
This is the year you also started talking; not talk talk, but you started to say words, both in Pashto and English. I absolutely love your high-pitched voice/tone when you want to emphasize something, and especially when you sing. Oh my, how much you love to sing! You’ve mastered the “ABC song,” “Mary had a little lamb,” “twinkle, twinkle, little star,” “Johnny, Johnny, yes, papa,” and “London Bridge is falling down.” And you’re not shy to sing loudly in public. It’s the cutest sight ever. You’ve also become a huge fan of puzzles; I’d watch you sit on the rug for hours trying to place the puzzles in their correct places, and then you’d look at me to see whether I’m watching. I’d then clap and praise your brilliance, and I’d be more convinced than ever that you are not an average child. You are so much more than that. I was nowhere close to being as smart as you are when I was your age. Your exceptional mind literally brings me to tears at times. There are no words to explicate how lucky I am to have you as a daughter.
Ah, how much I love saying this word. Daughter. Daughter. Daughter. The word fills my heart with so much pride, so much elation, and so much contentment that there is no other word in the English vocabulary that could ever do that. I look at you, my beautiful beloved, and I am reminded once again of how lucky we are, but also how incredibly lucky you are. Your gender, while a blessing, is a curse for many from the part of the world that we come from. And it’s tragic. So, very, very tragic. It’s tragic because people choose ignorance over something that could have so much incredible potential. Which is why your baba and I will make sure you realize each and every single potential that could ever exist. Change begins at home. But, most importantly, change begins with men like your father. He, like you, is a beautiful human being. He looks at you and sees a child with many exceptional talents. I see the way he says “zama lur” (my daughter), and the way his eyes shine with so much pride and jubilation.
I know you will be too young to understand any of this, even when you begin to start reading, but in time you’ll realize the exceptionality of men like your equally perfect baba, and you will even deeply appreciate it. We are all so lucky in so many ways. It would be a lie if I said that you aren’t lucky to have us, especially your baba, as a parent. It will make all the difference in the world in how you will grow up and in the way you will perceive the world around you.
We will never scream at you. We will never hit or hurt you. We will never forbid you from anything, unless you realize yourself that what you are doing is wrong/harmful. We will make sure you experience each and every form of freedom that this wonderful country, in which you were born, has to offer you. We won’t raise you like a boy, nor like a girl, but like a human being who deserves and is entitled to each and every single right and freedom (and so much more). I never want you to grow up feeling inadequate just because people disapprove of your actions or lifestyle. I will never allow people’s punitive statements like, “Wai, khalak ba sah wayee,” (Ohh, what are people going to say?) or “Kha jeenakai daasay na kayee” (Good girls don’t behave this way), to asphyxiate or stifle your dreams, goals or desires. If anyone tries to come in your way, I’ll make sure I break their faces. And I will.
But that’s all for later, my sweet, beloved janaana. Much, much later.
You are only two, and you still have at least half a decade or so to go before you can start thinking (not worrying) about these things. And until that day comes, both your extremely supportive parents will be ready. Very, very ready. We will not shy away or leave anything out. There will be no concept of “shame” in our discussions. We will openly discuss everything from menstruation to sex to body hair to just about everything! Every “taboo” subject you can think of. Like, Everything. So, brace yourself, my dearest. And enjoy your childhood to the max, because we will make sure you don’t settle for anything less.
I love you, Zohal. Like so, so much. I love you so much that it hurts. You are the piece of puzzle that was missing from our lives. You make our lives complete, as corny and clichéd as that may sound. You make my soul sing. You make my heart burst with so much overflowing love. Your existence empowers and humbles me. You make me want to become a better person (and I have been since you entered our lives). You are my daughter. Mine. Ours. And we will always, always love you (insert Whitney Houston’s song in here) no matter what.
Happy second birthday, da zRa sara. We look forward to celebrating many, many more, da khaira.
P.s.: By the way, you’ve started to call your baba and almost all your teachers at the daycare by their first names, when will you start saying mine? 😦 You also realize I expect you to call me by my first name, right? I mean you can call me “moray” if you’d like, but only if you put my name in there too. I hope you do start saying my name soon. “Mommy” is sweet, but “Samar” would sound sweeter coming from you. Love you so, so, so much! I can’t wait to shower your sweet, gorgeous face with kisses as soon as you wake up this morning. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my sweet little coco bebe! ❤