I am not very old but I feel I have the experience of an old man.
I want to be recognised as belonging; to be able to make my contribution.
I come from a village called Pishighar, which means ‘the village in front of the caves'. It is surrounded by mountains, not far from the Bamyan caves where the Taliban blew up the giant Buddhas. My father was an army commander. My mum died when I was seven so I was brought up by my granddad. My sister married an Iranian and moved to Iran, and we never heard from her after that.
In Afghanistan there are four main groups; the Pushtun, the Tajik, the Uzbek and the Hazara. I am Hazara. The Hazara people came from Mongolia about 2,000 years ago, which is why people think I look Chinese. The Hazara people have been treated badly by the others, especially the ruling Pushtun, for 250 years. This is partly the fault of the British, but that is another story.
In the year 2000, when I was 15 years old, the Taliban killed my father. As the son of the commander, I was in grave danger. My grandfather sold our land to send me out of the country. He stayed. He said as an old man he had nothing to lose but his life. The day I left, there were rumours that the Taliban was coming.
We walked through the mountains for two months. I lived with the cows, sleeping in stables or on the ground. I walked until my feet were swollen and my knees hurt. Often we had to eat grass. Sometimes we had to walk waist-deep in water. Even now, in the cold, my knees ache. I had led a very sheltered life in many ways; I wasn't used to hardship.
Finally we stopped walking. We were taken in many lorries, by many different people. I had no idea where we were. I travelled like this for nine months. When I arrived in England it was not easy at first. I did not speak English. For two or three months I still felt as though I was imprisoned. I had bad dreams. But I made friends, learned English, and passed my exams.
But then I got a refusal letter. It said that because the Taliban were no longer in my country I was not allowed to stay. I was very depressed after that. I left college for a while. I knew that if I went back to Afghanistan there would be people in my village who supported the Taliban who would want to kill me. Besides, I have nothing to go back to; no family, no land, nothing.
I am waiting for the results of my appeal. I am sick of not having an identity. In Afghanistan the Hazara feel like non-people. As an asylum seeker here you also have no identity; you are always waiting. I want to be recognised as belonging; to be able to make my contribution. I want to stay here and finish my studies. Then I can go back to my country and say, ‘Enough is enough!' Perhaps I can teach the new generation - to help people to learn to do things a different way.