The history of Afghanistan, its inner political structure, religious peculiarities and social life together with foreign relations have been defined by its location. Afghanistan is situated at the crossroads of Central, West and South Asia. Despite its flourishing periods Afghanistan was not a truly independent state before the 20th century. In the 19th century Afghanistan was between the might of Russia and Britain.
Afghanistan’s historical situation remained the same due to its strategic geopolitical location and because of ambitions of great states who wanted to keep the state under control. Very often Afghan people suffered from struggles of great states. The central government was unable to place efficient control over the country (Schreiber 1995, p.67). In 19th -20th centuries Russia extended its control over Central Asia, and Afghanistan was an essential part of the extension plan. The Afghanistan people always was afraid of the Soviet Union, however, the Afghans always wanted to get an advantage from relations with the Soviet Union.
Moreover, the religion in Afghanistan plays a significant role in its history. The key role of Islam can be traced since Genghis Khan who could not ‘remove’ Islam. For two generations his inheritors accepted Islam and became Muslims (Schreiber 1995, p.67).
In Afghanistan the religion has always been an instrument of political might. Religious leaders were political leaders as well. The politics of neighboring countries was influenced by a Sunni dynasty, the Ghaznavids, whose reign was an important event in the history of the country.
From the 19th century to the present time Russia and the USA have involved Afghanistan into a political game. Afghanistan still remembers a well-known interference, invasions, American and the Soviet Occupation time, revolutions and a complete devastation. Afghanistan has been occupied several times in its history. However, the people have not been defeated and invaders have been repelled out of Afghanistan (Schreiber 1995, p.67).
This paper is about a famous book “Bed of red flowers” written by Nelofer Pazira. It is devoted to a peaceful time in the author’s native country Afghanistan. In the paper a special attention is paid to the events, political and social situations of the state and its religious peculiarities before the Second World War.
2. History of Afghanistan. “Bed of Red Flowers” by Nelofer Pazira.
In truth, there is only one war. It is the struggle
between the power of good and the power of
evil in one’s own heart and soul.
– Michael Bonesteel
The first novel “Bed of Red Flowers” written by Nelofer Pazira retells a story of pre-war Afghanistan. The book is focused on the pre-war events concerning her family.
The major theme of “Bed of Red Flowers” is the importance of peace in the world. One cannot think about today’s events from the point of view of ‘good and bad’ things as the world consists of components of various colors. Indeed, it is a complex mixture of social, political and economical issues.
Afghanistan has been occupied both by the USA and Russia at different period of time. To my opinion, there is no difference between a Soviet and American occupation of Afghanistan. Occupation means limitation of freedom. There was only a small difference in some things – the life was better during the Soviet occupation. Thus, the Soviet occupation influenced the author’s life as her careless and joyful life changed when Soviet soldiers came. Thus, she still remembers joyful days when her family organized picnics and had fun.
It is necessary to mention that from anthropological point of view Afghanistan presents a complex example of a country whose history is full of invasions, occupations and restless times. It seems that people know little about peace life without wars. The author of the book tells how her Kabul, once being a beloved place, has suddenly changed into a war place. Her father was thrown into prison for his belief in democracy (Pazira 2005, p. 107).
While retelling past events from her own life, Pazira analyzes the history of the whole country. Sometimes she focuses on the life of her family; sometimes she takes a larger scale – a state.
From her childhood she has experienced the results of a war time. Being a teenager Pazira was in the resistance and helped her father having arranged his release (Pazira 2005, p. 165).
An author’s tone becomes gripping and even horrifying while retelling episodes from her own life. Moreover, she is not the only child in Afghanistan who experienced the difficulties of a war period; there are many children who do not know what a peace life means. Two generations of children were growing up without knowing the joy of childhood. The lives of Afghan children were full of death around them. The war time has marked them with awful scars on souls and bodies for the rest of life. Many people in every country want usual things from life. Peace is on the first place among them. In every line of her novel, the author proclaims the importance of stopping wars in every country, especially in those ones where people have not enjoyed peace for a long time like in Afghanistan. Life is a chaos without peace. The problem of the world peace is still a question and is not the purpose of every state leader. It is obvious that no one benefits from a war except political leaders. Ordinary people of Afghanistan must not suffer from state leaders’ decisions.
Eventually, the author’s family moves to Pakistan and later to Canada. From this point Nelofer Pazira continues her story after her return to a native Afghanistan to find a friend. The author describes the native country after the occupation: “Once the last tank has gone, the dust from their tracks settles… on the leaves of our almond, pear, and fig trees, over the roses, on the grapevines and on my hair and face” (Pazira 2005, p. 203).
The book written by Nelofer Pazira helps to understand the reality. The novel is realistic as it describes events and results of occupation without embellishing the reality. “Bed of Red Flowers” gives us the possibility to see the situation in Afghanistan from the point of view of a person who has experienced all the horrors of a war time. Her book is a story retold from her own experience. You may not see this information on news. It is a personal reflection on events in a restless Afghanistan as she was an active participant.
The war between Russia and Afghanistan has injured the nation, its culture. The devastation and destruction was one of the greatest ones comparing to the previous occupations. Additionally, the Soviet Union caused an irreparable damage to ecology, to Kabul and other cities (Pazira 2005, p. 94). Nelofer Pazira has survived after awful ten years of war, occupation and terror and wants people to know terrible details of a war in Afghanistan. Her book not only retells the story of her family during the war time, but also tells us how women’s rights have regressed in Afghanistan during the last ten years. Besides, her story includes the description of a major city – Kabul and its devastation and destruction (Pazira 2005, p. 127).
Nelofer Pazira’s novel is poetic and marvellously written. It penetrates deep into your soul and leaves the mark and memory of events in the history of Afghanistan.
Summarizing, it is necessary to underline that the Soviet Union caused great damages to the population of Afghanistan. If analysing Afghan people and Afghanistan from an anthropological point of view, one should say that Afghanistan deserves a more close attention. The history of this people differs greatly from other ones allowing scientists to analyse the development of this society and its culture.
The paper briefly analyzes the political, social and cultural position of Afghanistan before the Second World War in general and events in famous book “Bed of red flowers” written by Nelofer Pazira in a more detailed way. The essay focuses on the real Afghanistan that Pazira loves and knows. Besides, the paper analyzes religion peculiarities during the course of state’s history. Having examined the work of Nelofer Pazira, it is clear that the history of a real Afghanistan is many-sided and complex due to its geographical location and cultural peculiarities.
Schreiber, Stegemann, Vogel (1995). “Germany and the Second World War”. volume 3, Mediterranean, South-east Europe, and North Africa, 1939-1941. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Pazira N. (2005). “A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan”. Free Press, 416 pp.