Facing Mecca and the world outside, thirteen year old Gulistan kneels down on a mat as he says his prayers at Asr in the flat of his smuggler in Athens that is now a temporary home to fifteen Afghans. From a poverty stricken family in Nangahar province, Gulistan left his family home four months ago, following in the footsteps of his elder brother who is now in London. “My father is a farmer of wheat and maize and it was his idea to send me to London so that I could go to school and be with my brother. Back at home in my village the boys are working in the fields or in the bazaars but only a few go to school because the Taliban don’t allow us. There was a group of Taliban up above us in the mountains and they were forcing me to carry water up to them. Many other boys were forced to work with the fighters as slaves and I would say at least half of them have left already for Europe”. In Greece for the past three months, Gulistan is paying €10 a night for his room and board at the apartment in Omonia and estimates that in addition to the $3,500 his father paid to the agent, he has spent another $2,500 on the road this far. “The Afghan smuggler took responsibility that he would get me to Greece but never explained what would happen on the way. He told my father that it would be a very easy journey but that wasn’t exactly the truth. The whole way was terrible and at every moment I was afraid. There were many times that we were without food or water and we would spend days without eating. On the way I was robbed of all my money and my bag at knifepoint. Some of the boys that were in my group were taken hostage by some Kurdish smugglers who beat them and took out their nails. The worst part was when we came under fire from the Iranians but after that I was captured by the police in Turkey and had to go back and try and cross the mountains for a second time. In Greece we had to cross a river in the night and when the police caught us they kicked me and I have still have the mark on my leg. They took us to a prison but I told them I was eighteen so they only kept me there for fifteen nights. When I eventually took the bus to Athens some people took me from the station. It was late at night and we were afraid; they told us to come with them or we would be captured again by the police but when they brought us to a house they demanded €300 for the night. A lot of attacks happen to the people coming to Europe”.A rotund Pashtun, the agent with whom Gulistan has now entrusted the next stage of his journey to pats him on the head and says that he’s looking after him but chances are he is a trafficker. The youngest in the flat, Gulistan spends most of his time between writing notes in an exercise book and hanging out with the mafia at a local smoky café. It is the first time the he has ever spent any time in a city “The condition of Greece is very bad; like garbage. In Athens there are a lot of thieves from Arab counties and one thing is that girls are doing sex for €15 and this kind of thing does not happen in Afghanistan”. The other boys say that he barely stops crying and spends his night sobbing under a blanket. Still waiting for his family to take another loan so that they can send him money, Gulistan can barely afford to call home, “The last time I spoke to my mother and father was a month ago. Every time I speak to them they are in tears. I don’t tell them the reality; if I did then they would be crying day and night. I miss them a lot. I remember the butter of my cow my mother used to give me every morning and I’m think a lot about cricket and the football games I used to play with my friends but my mind is in London”.
©Alixandra Fazzina | NOOR
Athens, November 2011
About this entry
You’re currently reading “Gulistan,” an entry on The Flowers of Afghanistan
- December 5, 2011 / 11:30 pm