In 2007 there was a rumor in Kabul that a girl in Daikondi province of Afghanistan had been ignited by her family. For such a violent event, I could not quite believe it. I wondered how can a family be so cruel?
This story remained only as a rumor. No voice was raised about it; no hearth to miss her and she was forgotten as if it had never happened—until we went on vacation in Daikondi province. At my uncle’s house, we were playing in the yard when I saw an old dirty and destroyed house nearby. It was a really different house from any other and it confused me. I asked my uncle’s wife, “Whose is this?”
No one was ready to tell me the whole story, so I asked different people and heard different parts of the story. Finally I found out what had happened. It was the house where Tahera lived. A 24-year-old beautiful and strong girl of the mountains, Tahera was a girl who had won every game. She was the strongest girl in the village. She had been set afire because she went with a boy on a motorcycle.
One day when school finished, she and the boy rode around on a motorcycle for about a half an hour in the neighborhood around her house. Tahera’s uncle had seen them and he told Tahera’s mother. When she got home, her mother asked her, “Why are you late?” Tahera dared not say the truth and lied. Her mother already knew everything and asked her brother for advice. The brother told her, “Why don’t you want to ignite your daughter?”
When Tahera’s mother came home she decided to give Tahera poison when she was asleep. She did this, but Tahera woke up and threw the glass away. Her mother had to make another plan. She locked her in a room for three days, not giving her food or water so she would be too weak to challenge anyone. Then they beat her until her body become black, and tied her hands and feet to the columns of the house, threw oil on her, and ignited her. Before they burned her she asked for a glass of water, but her mother did not give her daughter the water.
This was Tahera’s story. This story cannot remain a rumor.
Photo by Ahmad Massoud
Basira, Thank you for your courage in telling this story. You are so right–this must not remain a rumor. And now you have told the world with your strong, clear voice.
Many blessings to you,
Dear Basira: You are doing the work of the angels. Too often we are told to be silent in the face of atrocity. We’re told to look away, don’t ask questions. But you asked questions. You pieced together the story of the unspeakable cruelty and injustice. I pray to God that Tahera is not only at peace, but is enjoying all of the beauty and kindness that is possible. In a few short paragraphs, you have done something deeply important– you shone light where others wanted darkness. You honored the memory of dear Tahera. Stacy