The Dark Net

behind the burqa net

Yes, I am a woman
I know I am a woman
Everyone knows I am a woman
Everyone thinks I am just a woman
A beauty of nature
A dream girl
A kind mother
An honest wife
A subordinate daughter and sister
An honest laborer without reward
A guilty member of society
Guilty of not being a man

Men should not look on my face
I must cover my face until the day I die
I get a headache
Without medicine I have to be patient
I walk in my cage
I walk behind its dark net
I can’t see my way
I fall down on narrow roads
They think I am stupid
Allah’s incomplete creation
No one feels my heart
My hurt

Men deal on my name
They make money by supporting women
But this support is just words
They build comfortable buildings
Maybe commercial buildings
Maybe huge castles
With pride they hang pictures of me on the walls of their halls
Me and my burqa

Earning more and more money
They have no regrets
They face the media
They say this is a picture of an Afghan women with burqa
They forget me
Forget my pain
I deal with my life
This is me
Yes, I am a woman

By Mina T.

Photo: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images


Comments

  1. This stanza slays me, Mina:

    “Men deal on my name
    They make money by supporting women
    But this support is just words
    They build comfortable buildings
    Maybe commercial buildings
    Maybe huge castles
    With pride they hang pictures of me on the walls of their halls
    Me and my burqa”

    Men deal on my name…men deal on my name… I can only imagine the fire burning your ribs when you hear the empty words, when you hear leaders say “of course we will protect the women” and take $$$ to do so and all that comes of it are more rooms to clean for those “protected” women…

    But the idea of being “guilty” for not being a man. You are these golden geese being treated like ugly ducklings. You are jewels. You are beautiful whole *complete* human beings. To have something less than that thrown at you is pure cruelty.

    But you fight back. You glow. This poem soars.

    Please keep up this wonderful work, Mina. You are making us proud.

    Stacy

  2. Nancy Antle says:

    Mina — This poem and your ability to give voice to how women are treated in Afghanistan is amazing. I’m in awe not only at your strength in showing us these difficult truths but in your ability to say it so beautifully. I know, too, that you worked really hard on this and I applaud your efforts. It turned out perfectly. Bravo! Nancy

  3. Dear Mina,
    Your poem was so compelling. It felt incredibly heartfelt. In particular I was blown away by your line: “I walk in my cage.” Immediately I could see how a burqa is like a tiny birdcage over a whole human being: a metaphor at once strikingly true and telling in how it lumps woman and animals together, and for many of the same reasons. The following lines also really resonated for me:
    “A guilty member of society
    Guilty of not being a man.”
    That unspoken guilt has permeated so many things that I’ve read and you put it so clearly. Congratulations on a great poem, and thank you for sharing it,
    Sophie

  4. Dear Mina,
    What a compelling poem. There is a great deal of anguish in your words. These were especially powerful for me:
    “I walk in my cage
    I walk behind its dark net”
    I think you have to be very brave to share something like this. I am so glad you did.
    Chin up,
    Bethany

  5. Cath Ralston says:

    Dear Mina
    Thank-you for bravely sharing this perspective with me. I have read stories of your country but, living in Australia, I never really had any understanding about your life and how it might be behind a burqa. You have broadened my understanding of the hardship you endure and I wish to send you love. I pray that you may experience a ‘wild imagination’ to bring you some joy in this very difficult era for your country.
    You, as another woman and as a member of the Afghan Women’s writing project, are wonderful to me – yes, you fill me with wonder. I wonder at how you can be so brave, so intelligent, so committed and your writing is so beautiful and eloquent that it brings me to tears each time I read it. Not just tears of sadness for your suffering, but also tears of pride as another woman and tears of hope for you and the women in Afghanistan who share your hurt.
    Please accept my praise as some form of reward for the work you do here in educating others around the world and know that I will now see every woman behind a burqa as a whole person with their individual hopes, dreams, desires, anger, pain, and love. You are complete.
    With much gratitude,
    Cath

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