She has no identity, no value.
If a woman has value, it is because of her body.
A half-figure with a fake smile.
Symbolic. Silent. Hidden. Not real.
Woman is lost in history.
I am a woman surrounded in night.
But I will fight the darkness.
I will break it down.
Woman Is Lost in History II
Here in Afghanistan, the word “humanity” has lost its meaning when it comes to the treatment of women. In this land many women live as slaves, withstanding cruelty, contempt, and abuse—just for a bit of bread and a place to live. Many women in abusive marriages cannot leave their husbands’ homes because they have no money of their own and nowhere to go.
Many women in Afghanistan cannot live in freedom. They must be silent, obedient, covered, hidden. They wear fake smiles to hide their pain. They know no laughter. Independent women are mocked as “fancy women” and accused of selling their bodies to men.
Men, shipwrecked in sin and blame, judge innocent women and then punish them for the crime of being female. They burn women like Farkhunda. They stone women like Rukhshana.
I’m like a broken wind, a woman in this land.
By Zahra Ab.
Photo by Amina Moravej
This paints a clear picture of the stark reality of life for so many women in Afghanistan. You are, indeed, fighting the darkness by writing about this and shining a light on this lack of humanity that must be changed. Please keep writing — giving a voice to women who are made to keep silent.
Your poem paints a powerful picture of the harsh realities faced by women in Afghan society. In Afghanistan especially, I can imagine how difficult it is to not be considered to have any identity or value because of strictly enforced gender norms. Women are bound by these cultural standards that often prevent them from pursuing their dreams or true ambitions. It’s almost like there is an invisible rope holding them back. Hence, they are forced to put up a front for the sake of others, pretending to be happy or satisfied with their lives. Your poem does a great job expressing this frustrating dilemma and perfectly portrays how often, a woman can feel like a “half-figure”. I think my favorite part of the poem, however, is the last three lines. Although the first portion of the poem portrayed the upsetting realities for women in Afghaen society, the last few lines provide some hope. Figuratively, it is as if these women are enclosed in an inescapable place surrounded by darkness, as they lack the opportunities to break out of these confines. However, you write that you will “fight the darkness” and “break it down”. I appreciate you for being the voice of the women in Afghanistan that are silenced. Understanding that these issues are present in your society and being willing to combat them immediately indicates that you are indeed one of the sources of light that will break this darkness. Thank you for inspiring me to fight for this change, whether it be for myself or for the women, like those you mention in your poem, who are oppressed. And to you, Zahra, this poem is just the beginning. Whether it be through your writing, or another outlet, never stop fighting for change.
Your poem is a powerful depiction of a woman’s experience in Afghanistan. In the first half of the poem, one of the lines that really stood out to me was “A half-figure with a fake smile.” I think that this represents how women are reduced to their bodies. Their minds and souls are ignored. My favorite lines from the poem is “But I will fight the darkness.” and “I will break it down.” These last two lines fill the reader with hope. They allow the reader to experience your hope for the future. I admire your courage and willingness to fight societal and gender norms. Thank you for writing this poem. It gives me so much hope.