It was almost by chance that he ended up as an interpreter for the Spanish troops that have been employed in the reconstruction of Afghanistan for the past two decades. In fact, Farshad Majidi studied Information Science With the intention of educating through the image and in the end, paradoxes of life, it has been the words that have shaped the way in which it has been won over three decades.
Born in Tehran in 61, he came to Spain with his family at the age of 15, four years before the ayatollahs made their country a place to flee. But his father (along with his mother and four children) only wanted to spread his Bahai faith. They were not escaping from anything. Although it is more than likely that, if the revolution had caught them there, they would have had to end up doing it given their father’s profession: Shah policeman. It was either that or probably death.
How we work? Lowering the tension and being faithful to the Army
He was brought to Alicante a quarter of a century ago by a sister who came from advance to Benidorm and the good weather. “We initially settled in Asturias but it rains a lot there,” he laughs.. Here, in the mid-90s, he did everything: from selling water treatment machines to doing surveys. And he was doing those things when a friend told him about a sworn interpreter contract.
That was the beginning of it all. First it was the interview at the Ministry of Defense, then the investigation of his surroundings for security reasons and four months later he was on the list of Persian translators.
On August 5, 2005, he landed in Afghanistan. His destination was the province of Badghis, located in the northwest of the country, where Spain had two bases. “I remember that I appeared in a sand field, that they put me in a tent with eight bunk beds and that at four in the morning I heard the first shot, a fortuitous shot that made everyone scream,” he says.
On the verge of becoming the voice of the soldiers deployed there, there was so little relationship that Farshad had until then had with the military world that it was on the flight to Afghanistan where they explained to him on a sheet of paper the different ranks of the commands. “I only knew that the generals were the bosses,” he says sarcastically while sipping a sugar-loaded tea.
For the Afghans it did not matter if we were interpreters or military, we were all foreigners
At that time he was one of the three national interpreters and the seven local ones available to the Spanish troops. Just six years later, the translators grew to one hundred, of whom three thirds were Spanish and 10% were women.
«We are not translating machines, our mission was to capture what the military wanted to transmit and make it reach to the locals. We translate intentions, not words, and always from loyalty to the Army, “he says. That in addition to serving as a transmission belt in the military relays “because they changed every four months but we were still there,” he specified.
This is not the time to get out of there. The country is not ready yet
It is this first destination that Farshad spent eight years, in what was called the provincial reconstruction team (RPT) focused on improving infrastructure. From hospitals to roads through wells. In the province of Herat he spent another two years, the time it took to dismantle the base, and the last three in Kabul, where the Spanish Army was training Afghan soldiers. Only two years of unemployment interrupted this activity that only allowed them to travel to Spain to see the family three times a year. The rest was work and work. Seven days out of seven at the beginning and with a weekly payroll later. “But you were always alert because for whatever reason they could call you,” he specified.
He, however, did not care because he admits that It is a job that has made him enjoy. “There is no life, it is a parenthesis in your life, but you feel like the older brother who takes care of the little ones and that makes up for everything.”
If you do not take life with philosophy when you are there the walls of your room will kill you
The fear of something happening to you in a hostile environment? «Of course something could happen to you, there were mines on the roads, we assisted the instructors in target practice, there was an attack in which two civil guards and a translator died, a river had to be crossed with the water completely covering the car … but you don’t think about it. You trust that the military will protect you and you focus on your work.
A job he has now lost. «We had an end-of-work contract. Now we are unemployed. The local interpreters are taken by the Americans and they provide them with training and work. Here we are supposed to have our life when we return, although in reality it is not like that ”, reflects this Iranian who has not returned to his homeland since he left, but who is happy for what he lived in Afghanistan, a country he always wanted to know and to know about. that, in his opinion, the military has left earlier than it should. “It was not yet time to leave that, they are not prepared to continue alone”, sentence.
For local translators the US gives them an outlet with training and work. We are supposed to have our lives here. Now we are unemployed
What if I would go back there? “Tomorrow and, above all, with the Spanish Army”, among which stands out the professionalism and camaraderie of the Alicante military from the MOE of Rabasa.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.