In Afghan culture it is often considered inappropriate for a woman to go to the cinema, even if she goes with her family. My mother was born to a very conservative family of Kabul city. She spent her childhood at school or at home doing chores. But she had a few classmates from moderate families who told her they always spent Fridays going to the cinema. My mother was disappointed that she couldn’t go. When she married, she was so busy she had no time, even though my father loved the cinema and might have taken her.

I was about twelve years old when my mother told me of this dream to go to the cinema. She emphasized that if some day I wanted to watch a movie but was forbidden, she would stand by me. She said it was an unfulfilled dream and she hoped I would not face the same situation. Fortunately for me, I was born to open-minded and supportive parents. Unfortunately my generation has spent all our life in the war and insecurity so I never thought about the cinema; I only wished for a peaceful country.

When I moved to Australia for school I found that all my new classmates went to the cinema on the weekend. Their passion sunk me back into my mother’s desire. One day my friends asked me to join them to watch a new film. At first I didn’t accept and said I preferred to be at home. The next time they asked, however, I said, Let me try. The movie they chose was called Crazy Stupid Love.

When we all went inside the cinema, I found a very different environment. I saw all the couples and groups of friends in the lobby carrying popcorn, snacks, and drinks. Everyone was happy and anxious to watch the film. We three friends chose a middle row and waited. When the lights went off and the screen turned on, hundreds of eyes turned toward the screen. I was astonished.

It was very exciting. From the beginning until the end we laughed. The film was about a family where the man had no time for his wife and was always busy with his business. When the wife wanted to ask for a divorce, he suddenly wanted to practice love, but he didn’t know how to do it so he went to a club where he met a man who promised to teach him what to do. It was very funny.

After the opening, when the movie finally started, I remembered my mother.  I wondered why she had not been able to fulfill such a simple desire. I wished my mother could be there at the movie. When I returned home, I phoned her in Kabul to tell her about the cinema. She was happy. She said now she does not need to dream because I was able to give her a real picture of the cinema. It was as if she had seen the movie herself.

By Asma

Photo: Jonathan Saruk/Getty