Mixed Up Dari

Haisha Hahsy

E Band

Mixed up Dari

I’m outside walking with a couple of friends and just relaxing or just meeting up with my mother and as soon as I see her I say, “hey mommy, how are you”?. The second I put my foot through my home’s door it’s “Salam madar jan chi tor asti” ?.  Home is where I automatically go into being full Afghan when I talk (I speak the language of Dari which is like Farsi and Persian).  I go from ‘sup’ to ‘asalam’. Home makes me into an Afghan and makes me feel more like me, it feels comfortable. When I am with Afghan friends or family I usually talk Dari with them but for some odd reason I talk English with the other teens even if they are afghan or do understand Dari.

  • Just got home from school

Asslam Alikum mathar (Hello mom)

Salam Aisha   (Hi Haisha)

Chi tor asti? (How are you?)

Khoob, chi tor bood maktab? (Good, how was school?)

Khoob bood, chi tor bood rosazat? (It was good, how was your day?)

  • Meet up with mom outside from school

Hey mom

Hi Haisha

How are you?


How was school?

It was good, how was your day?

  • With Afghan 15 year old, friend who understand Dari

Hey, what’s up?

Nothing much Haisha how about yourself?

Nah just school keeping me busy.

Yah, I noticed.

Sorry I haven’t been able to get in that much contact with you this week. I have benchmarks now so just a little busier than usual.

I think that I have adapted to speaking English with teenagers because I always do at school. I only speak English to grown ups because they don’t know how to speak Dari. I was born in America but my ethnicity is Afghani. While most of my friends and family were all born in Afghanistan; because I have no family in America. My father moved to America more than 20 years ago because of the war in Afghanistan; leaving him only with my mother when he got married. My family and I would usually try to go back home to Afghanistan every 2 years during the summer. I would be so happy to go and see my friends and family.

Of course everything has it’s good and it’s bad. The bad for me is that the one thing  made me nervous,  that was my own family.  What were they excepting from me? What do they think I am like now, have I changed from last time? Before I went back home there was some time in between where I would freak out a little because of the way I talk.  I can’t say  some words properly or understand really good vocabulary. In America my dari is fine but when I go back home I’m with the professionals.  Sometimes my sentences get translated from English to Dari and; that just messes up everything for example, ‘I like apples’ to ‘apples like I’.

I mean my family sees me after so long, what do they think I’m like now? Have I matured or have I become better? These questions are things that roam in my mind. Then I’m like what if I know everything in the world but don’t know how to speak. What if Albert Einstein didn’t know how to speak properly, people would have not taken him seriously and people would have made fun of him. A magician without it’s materials. A author without a pen and paper. A teacher without a class. A genius that’s a mute.  What’s today’s date?  Today’s date is Nov. 5, 2014 turns into 2014 5, Nov.

  • With family and talking with my uncle

Chi ra mekhani? (What are you reading?)

“The House of The Scorpion” minta tanha tha hawala astom (“The House of The Scorpion” but I’m still in the beginning.)

Ko bogo mara, chi ra zat tha maktab kosh dari? (ok tell me, what is your favorite subject in school?)

Zehat science kosh daram! (I love science (In dari science is science.))

Zehat chizar me fami da science? (Do you know a lot of things about science?)

Khoob astom diga. (I’m ok.)

Ko, bo go can sala ast zahmean? (ok, tell me how old is earth?)

Tar havei 4.52 billion sal.  (About 4.52 billion years old.)

Chi dorhast aftow az zahmean? (How far away is the sun from the earth?)

Aftow 90 milard mil dorhast

(The sun is 90 million miles away is what i tried to say but; what I really said was miles million 90 away.)

*Everyone cracks up, me in wonder of what I did wrong or funny? This was something that got me heated up and with so many questions in my mind.

Chi qism mahtab rosani couldra me gerata? Aya mahtab as could noor darat? (How is the moon a lit? Or is the moon a lit by itself?)

*I thought long and hard for this questions for it was on the tip on my tongue; with my uncle waiting for my answer.

Neh, noor na darat az could. Mahtab roshai could asz aftab megarat. (No, the moon is not a lit by itself. The moon gets it’s light from the sun; is what I thought I said by what I really said is itself by lit a not the no, sun from the light gets moon the.)

There I was in Afghanistan with tears running down my cheeks. I remember how much they made fun of me and laughed at me and didn’t take me seriously. All it takes is to make one mistake; and everyone is making fun of you saying no that’s wrong you are dumb.    “The most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.” This is a quote by James Baldwin in his article of ‘If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?.”  I say that’s messed up even though it may be kind of true. The way that I messed up at points divorced me from serious family talks; and from people not taking me seriously when I most wanted. Language is a like a type of special power. If you don’t use the right language you don’t have the power. Like I gave the example of Einstein not being able to talk.  Just like I wasn’t born in Afghanistan to know everything fluently; just like they are not so good at speaking English (except some people, example: students and people working with Americans) I’m not very good at Dari. Then of course Dari is my mother’s language the language of where I am from. I should know Dari better than English for it is my real language.  I started being more quiet but my family realized fast. I started leaving rooms as fast as possible and went somewhere;where no one else was so I don’t have to talk and make fun of myself.

Of course my family noticed quickly on why I was so quite. I am naturally a very talkative and loud person when I’m in a good mood that is but when I am sad you won’t even notice me there; I’m guessing most people are like that. My family asked what’s wrong and of course I was the one to say nothing but in reality I was feeling really bad. Then finally my aunt, Shabna came to me privately and asked what’s wrong and I told her everything. She said I should not be quite that’s the last thing to do. Shabna said “you can’t learn by being quiet you have to keep on trying to learn and get what you're not good at even if that goal is hard. Keep practicing and keep trying to get everything together. Just don’t stop out of nowhere because that will get you no where”.

I took her advice and came back into conversations and I thought everything out before I spoke and over the summer I got better and better. It may seem that only a summer of this wasn’t so long but actually it is very long. Think you are with family after long you understand what they are saying; but you are not sure if what you're saying is correct or not and in response you get a laugh every time not sure of what you did wrong. It’s harder than it seems or hears.   

No matter how hard something seems you always have to look over it and say I can fix this; I can bring everything altogether. I have learned that no matter what you have to face what seems the hardest; you always have to try in order to get whatever you want done. Even if it means moving mountains or people or oceans of tears. Get through what you think will help you in the end.  After all, practice does makes perfect. So maybe it you play around and practice on how to fix problems; then next time you will just become perfect. Isn't life about fixing and overcoming problems anyway?

Comments (1)

Liliana Guercio (Student 2017)
Liliana Guercio

I really enjoyed your piece! It showed how much you truly care about your home and I never knew your dad had to move to America because of the war, it must have been really hard leaving. I honestly your piece is great they way it is nothing really needs to be added.