Insha Afsar sits on a grey chair in a spacious living room filled with colorful rugs and upholstered furniture. The walls around her are white and decorated with original paintings, one showing a man about to dive into a swimming pool, another of a sun-lit mountain landscape. It is her family home in Siasconset, Massachusetts. Afsar is wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt, black leggings, and a Jack Rogers black and gold flip flop. Beside her on the ground rests a pink cane, which acts has her right leg. She is an 18 year old freshman at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and is now home for the weekend. She has a visible smirk on her face as she twirls her long, black, curly hair that is in a ponytail.
“I want to be become a lawyer and possibly go into Pakistani politics,” Asfar says. Her voice is soft, a little squeaky and pleasant, with the softness and sweetness of a child.
In 2005, when Asfar was about five years old, an earthquake struck Kashmir, Pakistan, measuring 7.6 on the seismometer. The entire city was crushed, people lost homes, and tens of thousands of people lost their lives. When the subject of the earthquakes comes up, she looks up at the vast white ceiling that has been cleaned to perfection, places her pointer finger to the side of her head, and rests her hand on the arm of the comfy chair.
“I don’t really remember anything about the earthquake, the only thing I know is what I have been told,” Asfar explains.
She explains that she was unconscious possibly from getting hit from a falling object and that her grandmother died from the effect of the earthquake. “The city was extremely damaged. No one knew what happened to the people around them, everything was pure chaos and all my family knew was that I ended up in the hospital with a crushed right leg that had to get amputated.”
Some time after that, Asfar’s father visited America where he met the Browns, who Asfar describes as a “beautiful family.” Asfar’s father’s relationship with the family grew tighter, and later they came to Pakistan and met Asfar and her mother. It was then that Asfar’s family made an agreement with the Brown family for her to move to the U.S for a better education, and for the Browns to adopt her. At the time Asfar was attending a British school in Pakistan. She knew English very well, and even spoke with a British accent. Asfar is fluent in four languages: English, Hindi, Kashmiri and Urdu.
Asfar still strives for excellence and fights against all odds. She has a beautiful soul, a beautiful heart and a beautiful smile. She walks with confidence and has a natty style. She is an inspiration to those around her because she has achieved so much and she possesses great determination. In her day-to-day activities her bright pink cane is her second leg and she navigates her world easily. She is also a great skier and she travels to places like Oregon, Maine, and New Hampshire to take part in skiing competitions. Asfar is 5 feet 2 inches tall and extremely striking.
Sitting in her chair, she quickly glimpses at her pink cane and says, “Missing a leg is not a setback, I don’t regret anything in my life and I can do as much or even more than what a person can do on two legs.”
Asfar’s adopted family is very supportive of her and they treat her as if they are biologically related. She is very much in touch with her biological family and she visits Pakistan at least twice a year to see them. Her biological parents have a smaller son now, a new brother to Asfar. When she mentions him, a small smirk turns into a big broad smile and she says, “I love him so much, he is so cute and although he is just five.”
Her smile has gotten broader and she blinks about five times within 4 seconds, her long, bold and beautiful eyelashes goes up and down, up and down by her gold-painted eyelids. “Pakistan is very different from America, it is extremely beautiful, it is very mountainous and relaxing,” she says.
Asfar explains that her family is not religious at all. She stated,” Many people believe that I am a Muslim simply because I am from Pakistan.” She shakes her head from left to right, then from right to left and says, “No no nooooo!!!.” she laughs aloud and proceeds, “believe it or not, my family and I are atheists, I only know about Islam through one of my best friends.”
One of Asfar’s best friends is Amal Amahammed, a native of Somalia, Africa. She is a beautiful dark skinned girl who is currently a freshman at Columbia University. ”I met Insha my first year at Berkshire boarding school. She is so down-to-earth and genuine. The thing about good friends is that you don’t remember the first thing they said to you, where exactly or when exactly it was when you met them, but you remember how good they made you feel.”
Asfar says that she loves both of her best friends dearly, including her best friend Shyanna Mahati in Pakistan. Mahati is also not religious and she resides in Pakistan. She looks forward to Asfar’s visits every year.
“ I have known Sha (she calls her Asfar, sha) all my life. We used to live in the same district when she was living in Pakistan and we attended the same British school. She is very loyal and I just couldn’t imagine life without her,” Mahati says.
As she speaks, Asfar continuously moves her upper body back and forth. She takes a long and relieving stretch and then takes a deep sigh. She is happy that she is home for the weekend, but says it is a happy-sad feeling. She wishes she was in her dorm room right now singing and chatting with her new friends,
“I love school!” she exclaimed, “well at least for now,” she added. She is working as hard as possible to make her name at Bates College.
By Rheanna Perrin