The excerpt The Pilgrimage of the book A Bed of Flowers by Nelofer Pazira
The three-day holiday by the four families is symbolic of the red flowers picnic, which symbolises a traditional celebration for the Afghan people. The Afghan children are exposed to this celebration as a way of explaining the invasion by the Russians in Afghanistan in the mid 1970’s. From a child’s view, the picnic is vital because it serves to answer the unimaginable questions that arise from the environment of the Amu Darya and Pole Dostee. The place is characterized by great beauty and a relaxed environment for families who visit the place, however, some of the questions that seem to be triggered from this place is why the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the subsequent enmity between the two States. Despite the peaceful nature and gentleness of the river that could suggest world peace, it is a memory of the war between the two States and Nelofer’s unfortunate experience during her childhood because of the war.
The border separating Afghanistan and the Soviet Union at the river is feared by the Afghan such that during the picnic parents would be worried that the wind would throw the kids to the river, this is evident when Nelofer’s mother asks her husband to be more careful when showing their daughter the border. In fact, the question contemplated by any Afghan would be the implications of landing in the territory of the Soviet Union. In summary, the story gives the moving and haunting story by Nelofer caused by a climate of fear and violence and eventually the escape to Pakistan and later on to Canada. The picnic remains a memorable and important celebration that illuminates the numerous blossoming flowers that eventually wither, symbolising the Afghan-Soviet war that tells the story of Afghanistan’s history as a nation.