By Huong Ly

BBC World Service


picture copyrightIsabella Balena

picture caption“All those years, I dreamed that one day I could touch a real piano,” Fahim stated.

Arson Fahim was 5 years previous when he first noticed Roman Polanski’s World War Two movie The Pianist.

Fahim was dwelling on the time in an orphanage for Afghan refugee kids in Pakistan. He walked right into a room at some point the place kids and workers had been watching the movie, and on display a hungry and terrified Polish Jew was taking part in the piano for a German officer – taking part in for his life.

“What I saw captivated me,” Fahim recalled. “I went to bed every night with the image in my head. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, how could a piano and the sound of it save someone’s life?'”

Fahim, who’s 20 now, was born a refugee. His first dwelling was a mud hut in a camp for Afghan displaced folks in what’s now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. His dad and mom met and fell in love within the camp after fleeing the civil battle in Afghanistan earlier than the Taliban took energy within the Nineties.

When Fahim was three years previous, his dad and mom despatched him to a house for poor kids and orphans, about 150km (90 miles) from the camp. Fahim’s mom did not have a job and his father labored as a instructor within the camp. They couldn’t afford something for his or her son. They hoped he would get a superb training on the orphanage.

In the years after he noticed The Pianist – the movie tells the true story of Holocaust survivor Wladyslav Szpilman – Fahim crammed his head with ideas of taking part in.

“All those years, I dreamed that one day I could touch a real piano and make beautiful sounds from it,” he stated.

picture captionArson Fahim, sporting a cap, at school on the orphanage in Pakistan

Then in 2012, Fahim’s dad and mom determined to return to Afghanistan with Fahim and his sister. They needed the kids to develop up of their homeland. The household settled within the capital Kabul, the place each Fahim’s dad and mom discovered jobs as lecturers. One day later that 12 months, Fahim was at a kids’s studying centre within the metropolis.

“From behind a closed door of a room came this wonderful sound – someone was playing a beautiful piece of music on the piano,” he stated. “I knew I should not go in uninvited, but couldn’t help myself.”

The instructor, Mr Milad, was giving a lesson, however he let Fahim stroll as much as the infant grand piano.

“I gently touched it and pressed every single key, for the first time in my life,” Fahim stated. “From that moment, I knew I had to learn piano. I had to become a musician.”

Fahim realized that the piece he had heard and fallen in love with was by Polish composer Frederic Chopin. Later he would study that the music in that fateful scene in The Pianist was additionally written by Chopin – Nocturne quantity 20 in C sharp minor. It was the piece Wladyslav Szpilman had performed to save lots of his actual life.

Fahim took his first piano lesson that day.

Before lengthy, he realized that Afghanistan had a National Institute of Music – based in 2010 by Dr Ahmad Sarmast, with worldwide assist, to carry music training to deprived kids. It supplied programs each in Afghan and Western music.

Fahim utilized for a spot on the institute to review piano and composition. He was overjoyed when he was accepted, he stated, however his dad and mom had been apprehensive.

“My parents told me I would not be able to get a job if I studied music,” he stated. “It took me a long time to persuade them to let me do it. They feared that my life would be in danger for taking up music and playing a Western instrument. They are still worried about it now.”

picture copyrightIsabella Balena

picture captionFahim has studied music in Afghanistan, even because the Taliban has focused those that do

During Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996-2001 music was banned. And practically 20 years after the Taliban was faraway from energy by US-led forces, the group nonetheless exerts affect in most areas of Afghanistan and is growing its power and management.

Two years after Fahim joined the music college, a suicide bomber focused a scholar live performance there, killing one individual within the viewers. The college founder, Dr Sarmast, was on the occasion and was severely injured. Fahim had deliberate to attend the live performance to indicate assist for his fellow college students, however was sick that day.

“I was lucky. But I didn’t feel scared afterwards,” he stated. “I would often stay behind after classes to practise the piano, alone in the entire campus, for hours. I know there is always a risk, but I am prepared to take it for my music study.”

Fahim can not purchase a piano to practise on at dwelling. “It is impossible,” he stated. “Even if one has money.”

Last 12 months, a international diplomat gave him an digital keyboard when he left the nation. “But I can only practise at home a little because there are power cuts all the time,” Fahim stated.

He has been invited to carry out at live shows and cultural trade occasions within the area. He additionally performs his personal compositions devoted to folks killed within the ongoing battle in Afghanistan. The South Asian Symphony Foundation has chosen him as its ambassador for peace.

In 2015, Fahim joined hundreds of individuals marching by the streets of Kabul demanding justice for Farkhunda Malikzada, a 27-year-old girl who was crushed to demise by a mob after she was falsely accused of burning the Koran. The incident shocked the nation and made headlines around the globe. Her killing had a big impact on Fahim.

“I was so shocked and angry. I realised how backward Afghanistan was and how much we have to do to pull ourselves ahead,” he stated. “I decided to compose a piece in her memory. It took me eight months to complete ‘Farkhunda’. I poured my emotions into it more than any other composition I wrote.”

On the primary anniversary of Malikzada’s demise, Fahim and different music college students gathered on the place the place she was killed and performed the piece for her.

Another composition that has made Fahim identified in Afghanistan is Freedom, a chunk for piano in honour of Afghan reporters who’ve misplaced their lives within the violence. He wrote the piece in 2018, one of many deadliest years for the press within the nation, with at the least 17 journalists killed.

“A reporter is someone who works for our freedom. Journalists are my heroes. Through my music, I want to show my support to them and raise my voice against those who try to take our freedom,” Fahim stated.

Fahim hopes to go to the United States in 2021. He has been supplied a scholarship to review piano efficiency on the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His favorite piece continues to be Chopin’s Nocturne quantity 20 in C sharp minor. From time to time, he nonetheless watches The Pianist.

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