I Feed Myself


I was walking in the narrow alley ending at my old house in Kabul
this afternoon.
The house is the only place I feel safe,
where there are no men.
I was happy, very happy —
I felt like I was flying in the blue sky,
like I was running across a large plain to break my silence, and say the unspoken truths.

Unlike every other day, I was walking with no fear.
I didn’t experience that pain today,
the pain that a girl suffers when she is out late.
Here, in my world
when it gets dark it’s like a vampire movie became real.
Every day when I leave my office,
people look at me with rebuke and hate,
I walk home, afraid of the vampires
who want to drink my blood
and frighten me into staying inside.

They would drink my blood so that they can defeat me —
but they will never let me be a vampire —
they don’t want a woman among them.
They see me as a mistake.
Every day I walk all the way to my house afraid of those
who think of me as a criminal —
and my crime is being out alone after dark
in these short days.

They want to punish me
because I am working to be independent
and to feed myself.
They think I am weaker than they, but I am proving the opposite.
This moment today was one of the best moments of my life.
Sometimes among all the hardships a small but wonderful moment comes,
and that’s what makes life a life.

By Masooma

Photo by Dima Gavrysh


  1. My goodness this is beautiful. Frightening, gut-punching, and glorious. These are the moments great poems are made of. These are the moments that create revelation, that indeed “makes life a life.”

    Your voice is so clear, I feel I can hear you speaking in Kabul.

    Keep up the excellent work, Masooma. I hope you will remain protected and brave, that you will always have the means to feed yourself in all way necessary.


  2. Elizabeth Titus says:

    Wow, Masooma, wow! This stops me cold. I have few words. Your conclusion — that life is worth it, in these small moments — is one that shows you have the wisdom of the ages deep inside.

    Amazing work!

  3. This poem is so beautiful! I was able to picture you walking down the street as night, being weary of your surroundings. I think it’s wonderful that you are able to be so strong in a sexist society, without coming right out and saying they’re sexist! This is fantastic work, and I hope you continue writing!

  4. Masooma, It is wonderful to see your new poem published. Your language and metaphors are so powerful. And your poem shows how strong you are, because you always find beauty where others might despair. I am so very proud of you.

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