To Feel & See

“You see, some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you just have to see and feel.” (pg.149)

Babi from A Thousand Splendid Suns 

The beautiful moments of one’s life cannot be taught, read, or learned.

It is felt within the heart, becoming an everlasting flame of love and endurance.  


In the context of the quote, Babi was taking Laila and Tariq on a day trip to the valley of Bamiyan. Interestingly, he kept their destination as a secret, only hinting that it was for educational purposes. Upon arriving at the historical statues of Buddha, they were completely in awe of its structure and magnificence. Babi, Tariq, and Laila climbs to the top of the statue and looks down at the vast beauty of Afghanistan. For Laila, this moment was absolutely breathtaking as she witnesses, for the first time, the prestige and glory of Afghanistan. It is here when Babi says the quote and then proceeds to reminisce about his past, his love for his wife, and the days where they came to the statue as a young couple. In this moment of the quote, there is so much emotion, enlightenment, and peace. These sparks become the fuel that drives the significance to what Babi had said: “Some things I can teach you, some you learn from books. But there are things that you just have to see and feel.” To experience and learn from the heart, than with intellect.

This event in the text becomes a significant memory for Laila as she is able to experience peace and silence in a country overthrown by war. Laila never knew of an Afghanistan that was glorified for its beauty- she knew of it, but only through books and stories. She had never witnessed it with her own eyes or lived in the moment. Growing up, all that Laila saw was an Afghanistan that was filthy of war. Soviet troops and the Taliban filled the streets. Gunshots, death, war – this was the Afghanistan she experienced and that was her normal. True Afghanistan was hidden, concealed beneath layers of dust of political tension, war, and destruction and this blew over the beauty of Afghanistan, both in society and in nature. Babi, understands the power and importance of emotion, feel, and connection. Although the world around him denies love and heritage, Babi continues to embrace and hang on to these memories and he wants his daughter to experience it as well. But this, unlike many other matters, isn’t something that he can transfer unto her through knowledge. It is something that she has to find and experience on her own. As Laila stands at the top of the Buddha statue, looking down at the vast expanse of Afghanistan, she is in awe of the beauty and feels a strong connection to her culture and heritage. The statue of Buddha itself is a symbolic representation of cultural richness, and this awareness of culture and unity in heritage is revived. Laila awakens to the realization of Afghanistan’s beauty and lost humanity. Just as it had strengthened Babi, this connection never fails, even when family, love, and society just crumbles. Traces of this experience is evident in her relationship with Mariam, her love for Tariq, and her connection with Kabul.

When I first read this, it reminded me of my growth in the spiritual realm. Religion is a big part of who I am and its really important to me; however, that was once not true.

In the book we talk about Laila’s connection with her country and the raw experience she gained. That connection and experience can be easily translated into my Christian life. In many ways, I was like Laila, living in what I thought was normal, blind to the greater depth that lay beneath the outer vision. For years I followed and practiced my religion just because that was what I was brought up with, that was what I was born into. I, of course, respected it; however, I was lacking connection. I would hear my parents talk about it so passionately but I just never felt the same way. I mean, it is difficult to feel passionate about something that has had very little impact on your life. My religion was my textbook, I followed its principles, obeyed the commandments, but some things you have to see and feel rather than being obligated to learn and memorize.

Laila visited the statues and it became one of the most memorable moments of her life. Similarly, I encountered a life changing spiritual experience known as being filled with the holy spirit. If you were to ask me to describe that experience, I can’t, no one can. At that moment, being touched by divinity, being strengthened and assured with power that surpasses my physical limits, is something beyond beautiful. Something that could have never been taught or passed on from one generation to another. And through every trials of life, I truly believe that it is this connection with God that keeps me rooted in place. 

My emulation is a simple poem written with emotion and feel from the heart. It begins with the day I was born as a precious baby in the hands of overjoyed parents. I have embedded scriptures that highlight my Christian life and denotes the significance of my upbringing. The poem unravels the deep longing and desire I had to feel connected to an invisible God and introduces a life changing experience that sparked passion.


Praises and honor fell from the lips of overjoyed parents,

As they gazed lovingly into the reflection of God’s intricate creation.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;

And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

(Psalms 103:1-2)


Valiant acts of the Christian hero’s were whispered at night

Their victory cries lulled her to sleep

She was training to fight a war of her own

Train up a child in the way he should go,

And when he is old he will not depart from it.

(Proverbs 22:6)


She fed on the word of God.

Sweet as honey;

And strength to her bones.

“My [daughter], eat honey because it is good,

And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste.”

(Proverbs 24:13)


 She worshiped as the angels fell to their knees.

With tambourines,

And the ten stringed harp.

I will sing to the LORD all my life;

I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

(Psalms 104:33)


But her heart was elsewhere.

Wandering aimlessly in the chaos of –



She searched, Oh so earnestly!

For passion,

That ignited flames,

In the eyes of the saints.


Until a spark flickered

In the depths of the void.




All powerful.

Awestruck, I fell to my knees.


There are things that, well,

You just have to feel

Right here –

Where it becomes synchronized

with the steady beats of life.

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3 thoughts on “To Feel & See

  1. Dearest Hefseeba,

    I must say that I am in awe of you. To have been brave enough to talk about such a personal topic was something I didn’t have the courage to do when I first started in AP English! What’s more, you show so much promise already and your words are filled with such power and emotion that I have no doubt you will succeed in whatever you choose to undertake in class this year! You truly are amazing!

    I thought that your choice for the quote was excellent – the scene with the Buddhas of Bamiyan remains one of my favourites, and your insight has made it all the more powerful! I especially liked “Laila awakens to the realization of Afghanistan’s beauty and lost humanity” – this highlights the importance of our heritage and the history that has made us who we are. I enjoyed the idea of hidden beauty – the beauty in the beast, if you will – and how, despite the destruction of Afghanistan, a devotion to the upholding of love and life allows people like Babi and Laila to hold on. I also liked the concept of a lost humanity, as the imagery of the destroyed Buddhas emphasizes this idea rather well! As a Christian myself, I also especially enjoyed your poem. The raw emotion and the power of its simplicity truly makes it a remarkable piece! The way you weaved in Biblical verses reinforced its spiritual nature – it serves as a reminder of the well from which your thoughts spring forth! My favourite lines were “Valiant acts of the Christian hero’s were whispered at night/Their victory cries lulled her to sleep/She was training to fight a war of her own” and “For passion/That ignited flames/In the eyes of the saints” – the idea of the Christian soldier has always intrigued me, as well as the stories of Christian martyrs, from the early martyrs of ancient Rome to those giving up their lives for their faith today. Adding this kind of imagery to your poem emphasized the importance of experience, and it truly served as a source of inspiration for me!

    In terms of suggestions, I find nothing that can take away from the power of this piece! However, there are some minor things to watch out for – the difference between singular and plural subjects and how they might affect the verb (i.e. “Babi, Tariq, and Laila climb” instead of “climbs”), unnecessary punctuation (i.e. Babi, understands the power”), and spelling (i.e. “Christian heroes” instead of “hero’s”). Also – and I admit I could be wrong in this – “holy spirit” should be capitalized, no? Regardless, they are rather minor mistakes, taking nothing away from the masterpiece that is this post!

    Hefseeba, all in all, I must say that it is my great privilege to be a part of your family group this year! Ever since the start of the semester, you’ve always succeeded in impressing me. Religion, too, forms a big part of my life, and, from one Christian to another, I’m really excited to discover what other insights you might have to offer as the semester rolls by – here’s to growing in faith together!

    Ever yours,

    1. Dearest Jieo,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post!! Christianity has always been such an important part of my life and I am honored to have shared a little snippet of it to my class. Honestly, I thought my presentation was really bad but I’m so humbled by the support you all have shown. Thank you so much!! Furthermore, I’m so excited to be in a group with someone just as invested in the learning of religion as I am and I can’t wait for the long conversations that are sure to pop up!! Also, thank you for the feedback, it seems to be that grammar is an on going fault I need to improve on, I’ll be sure to work on it! Once again thank you so much for your support and feedback, can’t wait to work with you during the rest of the semester.

      Lots of Love,

  2. Dearest Hefseeba,

    Where have you been?! You should’ve joined AP earlier! As Jieo has said, I am in awe of the writing you’ve shown everyone, and you just started! Your writing envelops your passions, and in that passion is raw emotion. Your ability to express your ideas is coherent and poetic; the style you write in is very enjoyable to read and holds a very deep meaning behind each word you write down. I love the part where you wrote, “To experience and learn from the heart, than with intellect.” it’s a beautiful quote, and it represents your blog as a whole. The concepts you weave into your piece are unified and sophisticated, and I love the way you connected Laila’s experiences with your own. Because I am not a person of faith (I’m an agnostic), your piece honestly made me envious of your religion. It must be really nice to put so much of your heart into something that you cherish and find fulfillment in. You are an amazing writer!

    In terms of improvement, just be careful of some spelling and GUMPS – remember to just read over your blog before you publish it so that you won’t make small errors. Also, I found there seemed to be some repetition of almost the same sentence between the first two paragraphs – where you wrote, “Babi, Tariq, and Laila climbs to the top of the statue and looks down at the vast beauty of Afghanistan.” and “As Laila stands at the top of the Buddha statue, looking down at the vast expanse of Afghanistan…” – just be mindful of your word choice, and maybe use different wordings instead.
    All in all, this was a wonderful piece, and I’m glad that you joined AP now, so everyone can read your insights and thoughts. I’m looking forward to your next piece, and I’m happy that you are a part of my family group! 🙂

    Hugs and smiles,

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