After visiting Afghanistan for the second time last year, the novelist Masha Hamilton started the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. The project connects Afghan women with American writers and teachers and gives the women space on the blog to share their stories.
I am now in the presence of these young woman and this writing is even more meaningful. With permission, I’ve copied one of the essays for you to read. If you are interested in reading more or supporting the blog, go to: http://awwproject.wordpress.com. Or contact firstname.lastname@example.org They are eager for your comments and support.
Wedding or Jail? October 2, 2009 by Roya
During Taliban years, all wedding parties were at home, and taking pictures or video was forbidden. The wedding guests were always thirsty to hear a song, but it wasn’t allowed. Sometimes, close relatives to the bride or groom hid a cassette in a pocket or under a dress. Then the music was played low, and young boys stood as security near the door or at the street. The girls would dance, but we couldn’t clap for the girls who were dancing. Fear was the only word we had in our mind. Often, after two or three songs, the boys would come and shout: “Stop, stop. Taliban are coming.” The party would stop and the guests would escape.
My cousin’s wedding was different. I had very nice blue dress. It was color of hope for me, the color of sky and the sky has great secrets in it. I was happy for his wedding and for my blue dress. Everyone was dancing and singing and clapping, forgetting the Taliban. My hands hurt from all the clapping, and my voice was wearing out from the singing, and I was dancing in that blue dress—oh, I can’t forget.
Some of the relatives were afraid and they came and said, “Please stop singing, stop dancing, don’t clap.” The woman playing drums was fantastic. She said, “If Taliban comes here, then they will enjoy from our party and they will start to dance with us.” But the groom’s father told her, “That it is not funny. Please don’t be careless.” No one paid attention. That day, from morning until evening, we sang and danced. Everyone was enjoying the party.
At last we went to bride’s house to bring her to the groom and her new house. The mother of the bride was crying because it was her daughter’s last minutes to stay with her. The bride was happy to start a new life. She bid goodbye to her past and we, dancing, separated her from her house. A car full of flowers waited to carry her to her new house. The bride’s eyes were blue and that day, the sky was blue, and the car waiting for her was blue and she looked beautiful with her blue and white dress. The groom wore Afghani white clothes with a hat which had mirrors on it. They held each other’s hand. It was like a promise to stay together for all of life and to live with love.
Finally, we arrived at the bride’s new home. We were still singing and dancing and it was 11 p.m. The father of the groom came. His face was red, his eyes worried, and he asked, where was his son? Everyone stopped dancing. We turned off the music and the singer stopped singing. We were all worried.
My mother and I were in the bridal suite. There were flowers everywhere, a very nice bed and a red carpet, cake and Sprite. I think the groom’s sister decorated the room. My mom was crying. All the women and girls were crying, and everyone felt regretful. Why had we danced? Why had we been happy? Yes, happiness was a fault at that time.
The men were outside the house. They were talking with the Taliban. The father of the groom was swearing to God that there was no music in the house. The men were trying not to let them enter the house, because there were cassette tapes and drums in the house. Everyone was trying to think where to hide them, but no one took responsibility to hide them.
Suddenly the Taliban entered the house and searched everywhere. I was afraid because I wasn’t wearing a veil and my dress didn’t have sleeves. My mom was worried for me. We were still in the bridal suite and the room was dark. My mom was crying and praying and looking for something for me to wear on my head. Finally I wore the bedspread and my mom wore a curtain on her head.
The Taliban found everything: cassettes and drums and tape player. They had the elderly father of the groom with them, and they told him: “We want you to go with us until you find your son, the groom, for us.”
The groom was hiding in the mosque next to their house, but when he heard about his father, he came out of the mosque and apologized to the Taliban. They didn’t accept the apology. They took my cousin and his father.
It is very difficult to think about it. Think, dear reader, if you were there? If it was your wedding? If you were the groom?
The groom who was to spend his first night with his bride, and his father, who had waited all his life to see his son married. Both of them were taken to jail.
After the Taliban took them away, I was in the bride’s room. She was crying and saying she wanted to stay in jail with the man she’d married. It was hard for her to be in that room, to sleep in that bed. Her eyes were looking like a garden waits for rain.
After one week they released from jail. But the groom’s father was suffering heart pain after being in jail, and he died within a few days. We went to pray at his grave, and some flowers grew there, and I thought perhaps that was a sign he was happy at last. May God bless him.
From the blog: Afghan Women’s Writing Project.
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