As I walk home, walking in Rawze Sharif
I think about how to start this story
I can feel my heavy scarf
I feel a thousand heavy looks from the men I pass by

I know they try to imagine my body naked
I feel the heavy looks
Like the other girls feel, like my mother feels
A heavy scarf, heavy looks, heavy hands, sometimes heavy bodies

All of this is forbidden to say and if any man
Catches me writing I will be stoned
I must write, raising my voice the way my teacher said
I must write this long story

I must raise my voice, tell the world
Why are our bodies seen as a weakness
Why would God make us like that?
The idea is God made women from the side of  men

How many times I have fought
With boys over this wrong idea
How many times a teacher sent me out of the class
How many times I cried

I am walking in Rawze Sharif
I can’t look at the wild eyes of men
I pass by them, walking and thinking

I must start the story, but from where, from which pain in my heart?
From which Afghan girl’s tears in the night?

Last night in a dream I flew to the sky
To the very height of the sky where trees are small as a dot
I saw Rukhshana, I saw Farkhunda
I saw myself

All the girls I know, all the girls I have seen on the news
Even the girl whose father took her skin
I saw them crying
Flying over Afghanistan
My heart is heavy
My heart is heavy
Arriving soon
I walk home in Rawze Sharif

By Sumaia

Photo: Eric Kanalstein / UNAMA