My father was amazed by this. I was stronger than my brothers and I was out in the world. He respected my decision not to marry. He was proud of having a different daughter.
Now I can fly to the unlimited sky of thoughts. There are no walls to stop me from thinking. It is said that there is no system of law in Afghanistan. But this is a great opportunity to create a system that does not control people. This is the time to create a system that respects people’s thoughts and opinions and allows them to think. We can make a system that does not make life difficult but enjoys seeing others enjoy life.
I was accompanying my father to Peshawar to a private hospital. There was something wrong in his chest. He could not breathe easily. We could not find a chest specialist in Afghanistan so we were going to Peshawar, Pakistan.
Dari is the formal dialect. Although it was originally the dialect of people who lived in Kabul, now most educated people speak it. It’s usually spoken in big cities and taught in schools and universities. It’s the language of government and media as well. Books, magazines and newspapers are written in this dialect. Dari is growing as education improves in different provinces of Afghanistan. Afghan refugees who returned to Afghanistan from Iran, Pakistan and Western countries try to learn Dari, although there are some challenges. Thirty years of war have kept the language frozen in time, so it is spoken the way it was spoken thirty years ago. It has not yet been updated with new modern scientific and technological terms. For example, when translating a computer book or a biology book, there are no adequate formulations or the correct terminology.
My friend’s family rents three rooms in their house, and this house always produces stories for neighbors to talk about for weeks. Once, for instance, two young girls lived there and worked without any man. The neighbors nicknamed them the “Crazy Girls” because they went to the gym to practice karate and returned home in late evening. Then two months ago, an Afghan couple who had lived inIran moved in. One day the neighbors were watching and laughing as the man washed clothes and his wife, holding the water hose, gave him instructions. The man was doing what was considered a woman’s job, but the couple did not care about the attention they received.
In April 2009, a group of about 250 women gathered in front of the Blue Mosque in Kabul to oppose the Shia Law that violated women rights. I was among them. It was a protest unprecedented in recent Afghan history and as the result, some articles of law were eliminated and some changed. But we were notprepared to encounter furious, stone-throwing men and shouting women. Thinking about this later, I’ve realized a very important part of our demonstration was that we began to learn how to organize. This is crucial because well-organized protests encourage Afghan women to take more responsibility inchanging their situation and the laws that violate their rights.
Shakila left Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, settling with her family in Iran where she completed high school. She returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban period and began working at a university to provide training for Afghan women.
I moved with heavy legs, stepping on small pieces of glass which looked like a white sparkling carpet. I walked until the street turned brown and dusty again. Wailing, screaming, and shouting, and the sirens of the ambulances and police cars filled my ears.