A thousand wishes in my heart,
I am a woman, my emotion
not understood by others.
I want to have a comfortable life,
with my small family.
I want to live,
I want to go to my office
without fear for my baby’s safety.
I want to be understood.
I do not want organizations
or people to mark my days.
What does it mean—
the elimination of violence against women?
What does it mean—
while I am only a secondary
part of my community?
What does it mean, when no one
in my village knows about this violence?
What does it mean—
while no one cares to eliminate it?
The governor comes to the stage
and announces his support
for the elimination of violence against women.
Ask him, Where is your wife?
He does not let her participate.
Obama is the American president.
His wife is known to many countries.
But where is ours?
There is the 25th of November,
only a symbol in our country,
We do not want these celebrations
with lots of pomp.
I want someone to understand my emotion.
When I laugh among men and women,
I do not want someone to tell me,
“Shut up—you are a woman.”
When I contemplate something,
I do not want to hear, “Do not do it.”
I am not a child.
Men used to sell me.
Today, they exchange me with animals.
Why? Where is the defender of my rights?
Today, I am banned from going to school.
What is my crime?
Such big punishment for my love of education.
I am the victim everywhere, in every regime.
Talibs closed my school.
The new government did not give me
a position in management.
My father does not understand me.
“What is your wish?” he asks my brothers.
“Father, Father,” I say. “I want to be a doctor.”
He laughs at me.
“You are a woman. You should wash clothes.”
While I run an organization,
I work hard to improve my life.
Before I go to the office,
my husband says, “Clean the house
and wash the dishes first.”
I am pregnant. I must
wash the clothes by hand.
Why? Because I am a woman!
I have to take care of all things,
without considering my rights.
Who is there to know
that I have just two hands?
One for office work, one to care
for my children,
Where is my third, fourth,
and fifth hand to do more things?
Please, please read my poem.
Spread the word about what I am suffering.
I am a woman. I am human woman,
and I want to be respected.
I am so glad to have read your poem, Seeta. And I will spread the word!
I want to cry and I want to scream out for you. Let me tell you one thing: your voice is so clear in this piece that a woman in a Peruvian valley could hear it, that a woman on the Great Wall of China could hear it. So clear, so honest, so painful, so alive…
I am deeply grateful that my husband is supportive of my writing and work, but I am writing you at midnight because this is the time I have to do this after the day’s domestic work is through. I would bet you that most of my female friends who are mothers and work outside the home are on their computers right now, too, because this is the time for the 3rd and 4th and 5th hands to be working… you are right to question why it must be you who cleans the house and washes the dishes when you also have the baby to care for and an outside job to do!
A moment in the poem that really struck me: “Ask him, where is your wife?” That line should have come with a sizzle and pop!
Well done, Seeta, well done. Wishing you strength, love, good energy, and power!
http://harlembookshelf.tumblr.com/post//seeta – spreading the word!
Thank you, Seeta. There are few words I can offer beyond Stacy’s. She covered all the bases!
All the best in your work and life,
I add my thanks for your searing words. You show the way to strength and dignity for all humanity. I too was struck by the line “Where is your wife?” and I immediately imagined the governor and his wife side by side on that stage. Or his daughters, sisters, mother, friends…all the women for whom you, Seeta, are speaking. So the stage must be yours and your sisters across the globe must find a place for you. We change the world one human being at a time, but movements and words that matter can change hearts and minds. Please take heart and courage. You give both to us all.
Dear Seeta. Your words strike a powerful and poignant voice against the hypocrisy and actions of the men that you and your sisters are directed to live behind. We the women of the world are sharing in your protest and with resounding resolve and anger to ask the questions. You so brilliantly portray the hidden nature of sisterhood striving for the right to have fulfilled dreams and the dignity of equality. It is with the force of words that your story will echo around the globe to be received and embraced by all the sisters of the world. With the respect and clarity of understanding, I say thank you for your insight, intelligence and courage to share your mighty message. Wishing you and your sisters all that is right and good and in freedom. Chris
Seeta jan, your poem is very beautiful and yet sad. I understand what you say. Talk to your husband. Tell him you can not do all the home chores that he also need to help you. Women should change wrong cultural beliefs. Women should bear boys who respect their sisters and help them in house chores, thus when they grow up, they help their wives too. Best of luck. More power to you.
Your heart is a drum. Please keep banging it and bringing forth from inside of you poems such as this one. It’s hard enough being a writer. I can only imagine, thanks to your words, what it must be like to be a writer who doesn’t have the love and support that it takes to be a writer. I hope you know that your teachers at the Afghan Women Writers Project love and support you and so do their friends are lucky enough to read such powerful poems.
A beautiful and intelligent poem, thank you for sharing!
I shake my head in wonderment — at the great strength it takes for you each moment of each day to exist. And the strength it then takes for you to care for your children, your husband, your job and to then gather the courage and presence of mind to write with clarity and conviction. You are a hero and your story will be told because you had the courage to tell it… to write it. Please never stop.
Thank you for this powerful work, Seeta.
The No women, No Peace. campaign are sharing your poem, and we will be spreading your words to our activists, urging them to take action to support Afghan women http://www.nowomennopeace.org/blog/item/448-day-12
This eye-opening! To read of such a caged lifestyle makes me grateful for my natural US rights as a woman and infuriated that women in Afganistan do not have such rights to wonderful things like education when we are in the 21st Century! Move foward! You rats of men, you poor excuses for male-beings, give the women the power and freedom they so deserve!
Reading this poem hurts me. I wish you strength and power with living in this difficult situation! I will spread your word,l by giving a presentation on this organization in class today. I hope that conditions will improve in Afghanistan.
You are a voice for women everywhere. Your life and words have great meaning, more than you know. I will share your poem with people I know. I wish you peace.
Thank you for being such a rare and courageous voice, for countless abused women, with hopeless and broken hearts. I have posted this link to your poem, on my facebook page. I am hoping in my own micro-limited way, that perhaps I can help bring fuel to your love, and ignite your words for even more people to experience your hope and dreams. I will pray for your words to land in the minds and hearts, where they can do the most good. May liberation from torture and tyranny take wings to release suffering women everywhere, right now.
From my lips, to God’s ears.
Dr. Roy Hedrick
Your piece is beautifully written, Seeta, because it comes from your heart–a heart full of longing for full respect as a woman and as a human. Your voice is clear, so it will be listened to by thousands around the world. Keep writing–perhaps one day soon your voice wil be heard close at hand, too–by your husband, your family, your village, your government who will hear your clarity of reason blended with the intense emotion of your suffering and begin to recognize the value of all women in your society. Women around the world suffer with you in support of your cause.
Thank you for this wonderful piece of writing. I’m sorry to hear about woman being thought of less! I agree with you, I believe that women should be looked at equally as men. I think its great this story is put here so many people can see worldwide, so they can help this change.