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

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“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?”

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