My mother told me this story many years after the Tajik Ismailies were blessed with the Deedar of the Imam of the Time. When we finally reconnected with our brothers and sisters from other countries, we also reconnected with our past. There are inspiring and beautiful stories of our parents and grand parents, many still untold.
The story I am sharing here is an experience of my mother recorded from her own words. I have not added anything to this little story from my side. A few months ago, I had told this story to a friend of mine, who had said that she heard similar stories before, and that it is sad that these have never been written down. Inspired by her words, I decided to add a small drop into this Ocean of memories.
I dedicate this to my father, a man of faith and love. May Allah bless his soul.
“I was nine yeas old, a young girl running around in the village of Ghorjwin, Shughnan district, temporarily living with my paternal uncle, while my father, then a member of the communist party – a former secretary of the Rayon Communist Committee in Murghab, was gone to attend a school in Stalinabad – now Dushanbe.
It was a time when my uncle spent hours every night telling us stories, about the history of the Panjtan community. One day, he whispered that the Khalifa from Sizhd, is walking around to show a picture of the new Imam.
One day, my cousin and I were sent out for something to upper Ghorjwin, passing the Shirum (a place in the village specifically allocated for Khoj – a process of separating the wheat seeds from grass using bulls to pull the mechanism). I turned back and saw a man wearing a Gileem – long white coat and a white Tibit – a hat worn around in Central Asia. The man was talking to my uncle, and when he saw us, he called us to come closer. Our hearts racing and full of joy we ran to them. The man pulled out a picture wrapped in a colorful velvet, opened it, and showed us a framed picture of the new Imam. So beautiful, so young and with bright eyes. These eyes were instantly engraved in our young minds and hearts for the rest of our lives. The Khalifa let us kiss the bottom of the photo, touched our foreheads with it, and wrapped it back in the velvet, shoved it into his Gileem, and gone he was.
These few moments were the most memorable part of my childhood, which I carried with me throughout my life. We never mentioned it to anybody. In the midst of the communist rule we were strongly advised to not talk about this. We never mentioned this to our friends, and even to our families. Four years later my father came back and took us to Osh, in the Kyrgyz Soviet Republic to head the Tajikistan automobile base. That is when he opened to us the name of the new Imam – Mawlana Shah Karim Al-Husseini.”
This is one of the many inspirational stories I have heard from my parents. I picture two young Badakshani girls amidst the beautiful sceneries of Ghorjwin village, where, like my younger brothers and sisters, I used to spend months of the summer school vacations. I see two men standing in the middle of the Shirum where we used to run as children, looking at a photo, their faces glowing with happiness, and my young mother giggling and running after her business, carrying the image of her Imam in her mind.
— Dr. Husniya Dorgabekova
Husniya Dorgabekova is a Tajik doctor, currently working for the Aga Khan Foundation in the Health field based in Islamabad, Pakistan. She was born in Khorog, educated in Dushanbe, and worked most of her life with various international agencies and projects. She grew up listening to the stories of our Imams and heroes, and the sacrifices and patience of the people of the mountains trying to sustain their identity and pass on the faith to their young generations.