With a sense of horror in my heart I was asking myself, what is life?
For a woman what does it mean?
Somewhere it means clothes, fashions, and makeup, and in another place, family, veil, and love, and in another place it means dancing in front of the thirsty looks of wolves.
In a far place, in the most remote alleys of Afghanistan, underground, in the corner of a dark room, for a woman prisoner, life means searching for sunshine. What she finds instead is the shadow of a wild man coming down the stairs, who darkens her body with bruises, covering her with a shadow blacker than the darkness underground.
Sahar Gul was a woman who became accustomed to the voices of beetles and the slants of shadows. With her narrow, tender look, perhaps she saw them as representatives of nature; in nature, there can be hope.
Being abused physically and mentally was a debt paid by her to wolves. For two years, the shouting, torture, and darkness were constant. How did she stay alive? How did she tolerate those crazy days? The answer is the secret in her view of life.
In Afghanistan there is a popular poem that says:
If people distribute the kindness
I am sure that we all are given kindness
If a human stands on the roof of love
He can feel God’s hands
But what of Sahar Gul’s husband? What do we say of the man who stands on the roof of violence?
Our nation is used to war and violence. Many of our men have not forgotten war. And some of our people are still thirsty for blood. In the absence of enemies, they make their wives their enemies, and turn their violence against them.
A few months ago while watching TV, I saw an advertisement for an electric tool that boils water. In this ad, a man came home from work and saw the tool connected to the electricity and left on. With a forehead full of scowls, he cut the wire of that tool angrily, frowned at his wife and shouted at her not to use electric tools at night.
This is our effort to create a culture of friendship and love?
Sahar Gul was rescued in December, after two years of torture by her husband and his family, after she refused to become a prostitute for him. In the photos of her being carried into the hospital, her eyes did not have even the mood of crying, as they were the lake of storms. She was fifteen.
In our language, “Sahar Gul” is the name of a flower that opens in the morning, and is very beautiful. Sahar Gul was like a flower whose beauty was hidden from the morning sun. Her beauty deserved to be seen by human eyes, not predatory eyes.
I wish Sahar Gul’s husband and men like him could learn about manhood from the Persian poet Nader Ebrahimi, who wrote a novel titled A Quiet Loving and a poetry collection Forty Letters to My Wife.
They were love letters, and his stories and poems were for her. In one of his poems he wrote to her:
Let us talk about everything which is different in our looks, kindly and patiently
I and you have the right to stand against each other
And have the right not to accept our ideas and views without having to humiliate each other
I believe that God regretted giving strength to Sahar Gul’s husband, that he cried for his morning flower.
We must not tolerate the abuse of power by the strong against the weak. We must learn about manhood from Nader Ebrahimi’s letters to his wife.
Let us stand on the roof of love and call each other by the best names.
Editor’s note: Sahar Gul is a young bride who was imprisoned for months by a brutal husband and in laws for refusing to work for them as a prostitute. She escaped and is recovering from her injuries. Photo: Jawed Basharat / AP.