Monthly Archives: December 2009

Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali


“However, some things must be said, and there are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice.”

“Most of all, I think it was the novels that saved me from submission.”

“It was as if my head had somehow divided in two. When in Sister Aziza’s world, I was devout, meek, and respectful of the many, many barriers that restricted me to a very narrow role. The rest of the time I read novels and lived in the world of my imagination, filled with daring. As a reader, I could put on someone else’s shoes and live through his adventures, borrow his individuality and make choices that I didn’t have at home.”

“Even when all women had been covered completely from head to toe, another line of thought was opened. For this was not enough. High heels tapped and could trigger in men the image of women’s legs; to avoid sin, women must wear flat shoes that make no noise. Next came perfume: using any kind of pleasant fragrance, even perfumed soap and shampoo, would distract the minds of men for Allah’s worship and cause them to fantasize about sinning. The safest way to cause no harm to anyone seemed to be to avoid contact with any man at all times and just stay in the houses. A man’s sinful erotic thoughts were always the fault of the woman who incited them.”

“The litter shutter at the back of my mind, where I pushed all my dissonant thoughts, snapped open after the 9/11 attacks, and it refused to close again. I found myself thinking that the Quran is not a holy document. It is a historical record, written by humans. It is one version of events, as perceived by the men who wrote it 150 years after the Prophet Muhammad died. And it is a very tribal and Arab version of events. It spreads a culture that is brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women, and harsh in war.”

“From now on I could step firmly on the ground that was under my feet and navigate based on my own reason and self-respect. My moral compass was within myself, not in the pages of a sacred book.”


My Forbidden Face Growing up under the Taliban: a young woman’s story – Latifa

“We each keep our sorrows to ourselves. Pointless to inflict your pain on your loved ones, since it will only double theirs. This is a particularly Afghan way of proceeding. It entails a certain dignity and a modesty of emotion in all circumstances. As chattering and expansive as we may be about subjects external to us, we keep silent about our sufferings.”

“… joy and sadness are sisters.”

“I now understand the stiff robot-like walk of the ‘bottle women’, their unflinching look directly in front of them or fixed rigidly on any unsuspected obstacle. I now know why they hesitate for so long before crossing the street, why it takes them eternity to walk upstairs.”

“This is not a garment. It’s a moving prison.”

“The grill-work slits at the eyes of the burqa remind me of a canary’s cage. And the canary, this time, is me.”

“There was no longer any question of boys climbing on roofs, their nose to the wind and eyes to the sky in search of kites. There still isn’t: the Taliban have outlawed the skies as far as the little boys of Kabul are concerned. One day the prohibition will extend to the birds.”

“If tomorrow in the streets of Kabul, a child steals bread from a stall because his widowed mother has no male protection, is forbidden to work and therefore condemned to begging, whose hand should the Taliban chop off?”

Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
“Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.”

“The truth is . . . once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.”

“As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed as ignorant as you were at twenty- two, you’d always be twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.”
“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

The Vine of Desire – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

“We have seen the amazing, the primeval human dream made real: people with wings. And it hasn’t changed our lives.”
“A tableau of silence: three people inside their chests small black boxes, holding inside them smaller, blacker boxes.”
“Does she believe that her name will wait for her, obedient as a brooch one has put aside because it is old-fashioned, until she is ready to wear it again?”
“To live like Sara in the present, in adventure. To not care about the worms curled inside the apple of your future. Is that ever possible, once you have become a mother?”
“But love is code sketched in dust. You look away, the wind blows, the pattern shifts, and when you look again, you discover it says something else.”
“My presence saws at the frayed rope that holds Anju and Sunil together.”
“That’s how much she wants to glean their interiors-what they do when alone, what they wish for as they throw a penny into a fountain, where they are afraid to go in their sleep. She is convinced their lives are more interesting than her own. But perpaps all who hope to be writers must believe this? She holds them in her mind like Rubic’s Cubes, turning them over to see how they are put together. She imagines their problems in jewel colors, nothing like her own fatiguing, banal troubles. In a notebook that is filling up fast, she writes to her father, I love the problems of strangers because I am not responsible for solving them.
“Might as well ask which is the truth of the turtle, the soft flesh its predators crave, or the shell that protects it from them?”
“His Bengali is stilted, the vowels stiff as though cut out of cardboard, as though he hasn’t used them in a long time.”
“So many violences done to me. My mother pounding my life into the shape of her desires. My mother-in-law wanting to cut from it whatever she considered unseemly. My husband backing away, with his narrow apologetic shoulders. Sunil plunging inti the center of my body, corrosive with need.”
“Is there anything as conservative as a conservative Indian male?”
“Revenge is like mango chutney: delicious at first, it leaves your tongue stinging.”
“She can feel the minutes falling through the gaps between her fingers.”
“Whe you know the green things around you, you’re no longer a stranger.”
“From experience, she knows her parking karma is poor.”