An eight-year-old child clutches his mother’s skirt as the border police interrogate his father. The family is only steps away from the gate or in their eyes – freedom. He looks up at his mother for serenity but a scarf and sunglasses conceal her face. Panic-stricken he is about to cry but the mother holds him tighter to her body. Two officials take the father into a room. As the father walks away he looks back, the child is unsure if he detects fear or calm under his father’s thick beard. They wait in the hot terminal sweating on the dirty linoleum floors of the foreign airport – mother and child melting into one with each tick of the clock.
It was 1983 when I clutched my mother’s skirt in that airport in Karachi. We were refugees from the Afghan-Russian war with forged passports stuffed into our pockets fleeing from the heat, poverty, sewage, beard, chador, and machine-gun infested streets of Pakistan. It was not our home nor would it become our home no matter how hard we tried. Nor could we return to our beloved Afghanistan. What were we to do?
My father did make it out of the interrogation room after the police had tried to bleed him of a couple of more dollars he didn’t have. We boarded the airplane and twenty-five years later I am able to write to you. Although now I am Canadian citizen, I have never forgotten my Afghan past. I was born amidst conflict. Conflict necessitates my art. Conflict manifests itself in my films.
My conflict has direction. I have a thesis. I was ripped from my home country in the heart of Asia at a young age and planted into the farthest outposts of Western Civilization – Vancouver, Canada. The most fundamental question is one of identity. Do I belong among the identical wooden homes, cul-de-sac streets, Slurpee brain-freezes, and street hockey slap shots of Vancouver? Or do I belong among the crude mud homes, croaked dirt streets, kite-spotted skies, and mine-riddled hills of Kabul?
Tarique Qayumi has completed the world renowned film program at UCLA with a Master's in Fine Arts. In his four years of residence in LA, he?s directed twenty-five shorts and has written fifteen feature scripts.
He was one of the finalists in the Coca- Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Contest, which also advanced to the Blue Ribbon for the student Emmys. His short film "The Pen" won the Filmaka.com "Smoke and Mirrors" contest. He's also the recipient of the Jack Nicholson Screenwriting Award at the UCLA Theater, Film and Television Awards. He was one of five out of two-hundred people to be chosen to shoot Discover Card?s “What would you do if you had a million dollars?” campaign. His film “The Last Supper” won the audience choice award as well as the best actor in the Shorttakes Film Festival – a contest between all the film schools in the US. ”The Last Supper" was also selected for the Readymade Film Festival and the Beverly Hills Film Festival. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles where he's preparing to shoot his first feature film in 2011.
You can find out more about him at his website: