The beauty of our dark side — a short story
A happy family of three lived in a small town not too far from Kabul. They were not particularly wealthy but had enough to eat and could fund their ten-year-old son’s school. The son named Zahir was always hardworking and very keen to behave virtuously and morally correctly. He was good at school and helped at home whenever his help was needed. But one day when the father came home from work, he saw his otherwise hard-working son sitting sadly in the garden. So he sat down next to him and asked if anything had happened.
Zahir, who did not dare to look his father in the eye, answered quietly:
I think it’s better if I leave you. I try really hard to be a good son, but again and again I discover a dark side in myself. One that rebels against my good one. I try to suppress it but I don’t know how long I can do it. I think I have something of the devil in me, maybe I am a sinner and not worth staying with you.
The kind-hearted father, who listened attentively to his son, thought for a moment, until he then asked:
Who put these fools in your head? Who told you that your dark side makes you sinful? I definitely didn’t. I wouldn’t think you were normal if you didn’t have some darkness too.
Zahir looked up at his father in confusion:
You really mean that? But we are taught that. All the metaphors of heaven and hell, sin. And all the manners that we have to learn to be good people so as not to get to the devil.
Zahir’s father nodded, moved a little closer to his son and put his arm around him.
You know, strangely enough, we are taught how to behave well, but only in such a way that it is ordered and we don’t really understand what it means to behave well from the bottom of our heart. Not even those who teach us at school. Being good does not mean simply adopting all the rules and putting on a mask that denies the other, darker part of the self. See, I used to be terrified of the darkness of the night. I only went out when it was day, when the sun was shining. I was really scared of what to expect in the dark and instead of figuring it out, I tried to ignore the existence of it.
One day I fell in love with a beautiful girl who lived only a few houses away from me. But there was a problem. She wanted to look at the stars. I was in a trap. How should I accompany her without facing the dark?
Zahir listened intently to his father and asked impatiently what happened next. The father continued:
I told her about my fear. Then she said something very important to me: that she loved the night, because through the night she loved the day even more. The more she loved the dark, the more intensely she appreciated the light. I was fascinated by her answer so I faced my fear and met her at night to look at the stars. It was unbelievable. All these years I had never dared to face the darknes, without really knowing what was so scary about it. I think it was just a stubborn construct of my head. Of course I had to move a little more gently at night, I couldn’t see that much. But you could find other beautiful things to admire, like laying down and gazing at the moon, which you couldn’t do during the day. It seemed that experiencing these two opposites was essential if one wanted to grasp the real beauty of the sky. If someone told me now that the night would be abolished just because people were afraid of it, I would never accept it. The only way to breathe deeply into the world is not to avoid the night but to learn to love the night. All the rules and teachings may want to bring out the good in us, but likewise make us afraid our darkness, which makes us reject ourselves. But I don’t want a son who just follows the rules, who wears a mask, I want a son who practices morality from the bottom of his heart. A son who slowly learns to love his own moonlight just as much as his sunlight because he knows that the recognition of the moon is essential to realize the sun. Those who do not explore their dark side sincerely will never be able to grasp life in its full beauty. Because even while the sun is shining, the fearful will be afraid of the coming night.
This was the day young Zahir learned to love himself.