Eyes of a Child

It wasn't her eyes that made people stop and stare. At least it wasn't just that.

It was the way she looked at them, her neutral gaze, expressionless and yet so intense.

How a child her age could learn to place such maturity in her expression was a question many had asked but had never been able to answer.

She wasn't much older than 6 maybe 7. But it didn't feel like it was a child looking at you. Her eyes held stories, lifetimes and decades in them.

And yet she wasn't the first child I had come across and been captivated by.

The children of Afghanistan all hold the same expression in their eyes, the same eery look of an adult stuck in a child's body.

But then again, the life of an Afghan child didnt have much room for childhood. It was a question of survival. Mouths to feed. Days to get by. And the burden most often fell on the children, who would scatter the streets, collecting sympathy and condolences from the few foreign faces, avoiding irritated shopkeepers who had had enough of their schemes with their potential customers.

And so, as I stared into her deep blue eyes, I felt ashamed. Ashamed of the privelege I had gotten, ashamed that I was allowed to be a child up until I was an adult while she had began her journey as an adult not long after she had learned to walk.

Suddenly, she smiled. As if to comfort me, as if to tell me it was okay. And in her eyes, I saw it, a glimpse of the childhood she had missed, a hint of the mischievous smile curving on her lips and I felt my eyes burning and a single tear streak slowly down my face.

I smiled back.


Story and illustration by @rasmorawaj ©

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