November has closed in, and it has been many many months since I last wrote. I moved to Kabul finally. Shortly after, my sister Farishta got married. And in between free spaces and time, I too met someone and fell in love even though I tried mighty hard not to. Somehow it feels as though my life fast-forwarded in the space of 6 months. And words that I rushed over emails to my family seemed first to say > I am in a relationship, then > I am engaged, then > Oh I forgot to tell you, I got married two weeks ago. My sister had to remind me to tell my father. It completely escaped me. Then at the opportune moment he skyped with me for the first time in my and his life – and I started a little too enthusiastically for his sensitivity “Papa, guess what!!??”
We had a customary ceremony – what turned out to be a moment of true clarity, that to with heart racing, a little bride-nervous-ness until I saw him standing with his hands clutched together in front of him.
Sweet whimsical world
Vibrant language, each word collapsing into the next
Eyes enlarged, and taming creases
I only want to fall asleep in the curve of your words.
I was in the car with my colleague talking about Shoaib’s travels around Afghanistan, including Taliban-controlled areas.
H, the driver who is silent the entire time looks at me through the rearview mirror and smiles, “Ya, ya..the Taliban liked him very much!!”
These days my thoughts are filled with this country’s demises. I am running a media campaign for the Ministry of Interior/NTMA on recruitment of children into the security forces (state and non-state, police, haqqani network, taliban). Saw pictures, videos and read country-reports on young boys used for sexual purposes (baccha bazi). The practice of baccha bazi (dancing boys) ia one where young boys are dressed as girls and are taught to entertain men by dancing – they are then bought and raped. I watched parts of the documentary on youtube – the campaign became very important to me though it caused many many sleepless nights. Baccha Bazi is extremely prevalent (though never mentioned) and the police force and army provide a safe institution for this practice, when they recruit children as “helpers” in the armed forces.
Cases of violence against women are never short. And these stories hold onto the soul. Shoaib and I visited the burn unit of Estiqlal Hospital in Kabul – and the state of Mumtaz, a victim of an acid spray in Kunduz, just haunted me. When Shoaib and I returned home, we shuffled aimlessly in the room for a few minutes, holding each other in between, then letting go. Then I simply did not want to talk about her. There is a silence that ends every conversation on how a girl was battered, or burnt, or imprisoned. It is a silence of hope and despair all at the same time.
Mumtaz’s perpetrators have been captured — and I pray they won’t be released back again.
They say God is the writer of fates. I wonder what other horror stories He will cook up next. Another child…perhaps.
Shoaib is in a business meeting and I can’t wait for him to come home so we can have dinner and read something together. He is reading the German translation of The Alchemist, a book I read a very long time ago.
I have been reading short stories by Gibran and Lahiri- and hope to find time between work to start writing – drawing on the varied experiences and complex characters of the people I meet here, the wondrous and disastrous culture we find ourselves trapped in, destabilizing discourses of women lawyers, how identities are negotiated in this hierarchized social organization, and pieces of Shoby’s experiences with the Taliban, building hospitals and giving his life to people.
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)