When the Taliban took over, Musadiq Bidar and his family fled Afghanistan with only the belongings they could carry, finally making their way to a Pakistani refugee camp where, for the next several years, he spent twelve sweltering hours a day cramped with nineteen others making rugs in order to buy food for his family. The comforts of his childhood had been snatched from him, and yet, what he got was exactly the love a child should have. Late every evening, after the day’s grueling work was finished, knowing that education was critical to a good life, and the Bidars taught their children, night after night, everything they knew about basic math, history science.
Musadiq still lights up with a broad grin as he remembers the day his family got permission to come to America, the trip itself, and every detail of becoming an American. Because they landed in American unable to speak English, the Bidar family started over once again with a new language, a new culture and new challenges.
With no classroom experience behind him, Musadiq started school in the 6th grade and never let himself get discouraged by all he had to learn in a short time. His mother walked him to school every day at 6 am, held two jobs to put food on the table, and went to school at night to learn English. For Musadiq, the difference between an American school and the dingy stifling carpet factory was enough to push him forward with enthusiasm and determination. He succeeded so well that he got a scholarship to an exclusive high school where he played on both varsity baseball and basketball teams, was cast in four school drama productions, was treasurer of his class and for three years the President of the Latino class. He was the Vice President of the Athenian School Town Meeting representing his school at the National Association of Independent Schools in Boston and again in Vancouver, Canada.
He became a United States Citizen while in high school, and from there it was off to George Washington University. He now works at CBS as a journalist. English, by the way, is his third language after Farsi and Urdu. Musadiq is doing more than living the American dream; he is the American dream. He did not simply adapt to American life, he embraced it wholly, and at every turn he fulfilled his potential with bravery, love, gratitude and the confidence his parents gave him. He remembered. He promised. So, he wrote:
“Dear Mom and Dad,
Can you believe it has been over 13 years since we came to America? A lot has happened over the years. We have built a new life in this land and while you have been hesitant at times to embrace the American culture, my siblings and I are fully immersed in it, armed with values you have bestowed upon us. Values like hard work, honesty, dedication, love, compassion, patience, and understanding to include a few.
The first few years it wasn’t always easy. There were early mornings walking to school in the rainy winter months because we didn’t own a car. There were long lines at social services because we didn’t have the necessary resources. There were late nights at emergency rooms because we were carless kids breaking bones and spraining ankles playing sports. There were long months with no weekends and years without vacations because you needed to work overtime to ensure we had everything we wanted.
You preached material goods aren’t a means for happiness but nevertheless you made sure we had the latest toys and gadgets so we would feel up to par with our peers. I’m not sure how you managed it to pull it all off without losing your sanity or turning to vices to cope. The only answer is love. You did it because you love each other, because you love your children, and because you fell in love with the idea of giving us a better life. That is the essence of the American Dream and You have proved that anyone can rise from rags to riches and respectability with hard work and good intentions. In doing so you have changed the trajectory of our family for generations to come. I hope you truly understand the gravity of your work and the positive consequences it will have not only on my life but on my kids lives and so on.
So I am grateful for the life you have lived
For the sacrifices you have made
The price you have paid
just to ensure we can have an opportunity to reach high and take
Anything we set our minds on
With the right attitude
no matter the altitude
In your footsteps
We shall follow with gratitude
And allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor
That time is now, not later
You can sit back
We will cater
Whether it is food on the table or the bill for the cable
Even changing your neighbors
A new house to bring in new flavors
Don’t think of it as a favor
It’s my responsibility as the torchbearer
To ensure your comfort the way you once did for me
To apply the lessons you have bestowed upon me
Do believe I take it seriously
Even when I don’t seem to be
I have just begun and there’s a lot more work to be done
But all thanks to you – I am confident that I can.”
Thank you, Musadiq for sharing this letter.