I Wish My Grandfather Were Alive to See his Grandson Read his Books

Children's faces are blurred to protect their identity

Jalaluddin Balkhi was named after the poet Rumi by his late grandfather who was a respected scholar of Darri (classic Persian) and Pashto when their family lived in Afghanistan. But when war forced them to take refuge in Pakistan, their grandfather became a laborer since neither Darri nor Pashto had any value in that country. Although none of his children or grandchildren could go to school as they had to start work at a very young age, they were all named after great scholars. Their grandfather wanted to teach the children to read, but was too exhausted after working all day to do so.  

The family lost almost everything when they fled Afghanistan. Their refugee status will end someday, but they have nothing to go back to.  Their village was destroyed and the land that once boasted of its orchards is now a barren desert.  They do still have the old scholar’s books, though none of them can read them. 

Jalaluddin is happy that his younger brother, who helps him sell fruit in the market, will learn to read and write at Brighter Tomorrow. He is looking forward to the day when Rehman, who is named after a Sufi poet, will be true to his name and will be able to read the Dewan (collection of poems) of Rehman Baba out of their grandfather’s collection. He hopes this will break the cycle of illiteracy in their family and only wishes his grandfather was alive to see his offspring read his books.