Monthly Archives: December 2013

Taliban Escape! One Woman’s Journey Out of Hell – Aabra

“Too big,” she said, looking at my breasts. “Too much. Make men burn. We have straps to make flat. You want?”
Now it was my turn to frown. “No. I don’t want to be flat. This is me. This is how the good Lord made me.”
The woman shook her head and sighed. “Not good for men.”
Sufa nodded. “I know it sounds old fashioned but women here are required to dress like that to protect them from the lustful looks of men.”
I glanced at the Land Rover’s side windows and was glad to see they were very dark. I pushed the hood-like covering off my head and pulled some of the material away from my throat.
“What’s wrong with your men?” I said sarcastically. “Can’t they control their emotions?” Patiently, Sufa said, “It’s part of our religious heritage. Women should not attract attention to themselves in any way. Even the Koran says that. Women should guard their modesty and should not display their beauty.”
When I woke up again the sun was slicing through my eyes like a sharp but rusty knife.



The Bookseller of Kabul – Asne Seierstad


‘It won’t help this country however much we bang our heads on the ground.

It’s a good sign when the bride is unwilling. That indicates a pure heart.

‘I wouldn’t print his stuff if I was offered all the tea in China.

They flap into the cool apartment, pull the burkas over their heads, hand them up on nails and heave a sigh of relief. Their faces have been restored. The faces the burkas stole.

She watches from a distance and is forbidden to either smile or dance. Happiness would hurt the mother she is leaving, sorrow irritate the future mother-in-law.

A bride must look artificial, like a doll. The word for doll and bride is the same –arus.

The silence is broken only when they urge each other to eat more. It is good manners to push the juiciest morsels over to your neighbour.

Now she is nervous about not being beautiful enough and the playful look has disappeared. A wedding is deadly serious.

The bushy eyebrows, which are so strong they have met in the middle, are plucked. This is the most important sign of her intended marriage, as unmarried women cannot pluck their eyebrows.

The dress must be green –the colour of Islam.

Shakila would rather fall over than be seen without burka.

When they stop they must each try to put one foot over the other’s. The winner is declared the boss in the marriage. Wakil wins, or Shakila lets him win, as she should. It looks bad to appropriate power which is not hers by right.

Without the blood, it would have been Shakila, not the piece of cloth, that was returned to the family.

She is the afterthought at nineteen and at the bottom of the pecking order: youngest, unmarried and a girl.

The tragic reality sometimes presents the appearance of a cartoon film, or rather a thriller.

The women are now spotlessly clean under the burkas and the clothes, but the soft soap and the pink shampoo desperately fight against heavy odds. The women’s own smell is soon restored; the burkas force it down over them. The smell of old slave, young slave.

Alone is an unknown idea for Leila. She has never, ever, anywhere, at any time, been alone.

These are stories she can relate to with all her senses. Sharifa’s stories are her soap operas.

She has been brought up to serve, and she has become a servant, ordered around by everyone. In step with every new order, respect for her diminishes. If anyone is in a bad mood, Leila suffers.

A new day which smells and tastes like every other day: of dust.

She feels she is turning her soul inside out, in front of these boys.

‘When a man has everything and does not know what more to do, he tries to teach his donkey to talk’

When the last-born plays with the mother’s shawl, the next child will be a girl, so the saying goes.

Leila is at a standstill; a standstill in the mud of society and the dust of tradition.

It felt better that his heart bled for the dead minister than for his own lost child.

The illiterate woman, who was forced to marry to provide her family with money, was going to turn into an honoured and respected mother through her son.

Suddenly there is a war inside her head she never knew existed.

‘But what about the murder?’ Leila asks. ‘Her crime came first.’

Whatever happened she would never get away; once again she would be caught within the family, like Shakila; chickens, hens and children around her skirts all day long.

Leila feels how life, her youth, hope leave her –without being able to save herself. She feels her heart, heavy and lonely like a stone, condemned to be crushed forever.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

I live alone with my cat, a big lazy tom who has no distinguishing features other than the fact that his paws smell bad when he is annoyed.
People aim for the stars, and they end up like goldfish in a bowl.
Well, my mother isn’t exactly a genius but she is educated. She has a literature PhD. She writes her dinner invitations without mistakes and spends her time bombarding us with literary references (‘Colombe, stop trying to act like Madame Guermantes,’ or ‘Sweetie, you are a regular Sansaverina’).
I think lucidity gives your success a bitter taste, whereas mediocrity still leaves hope for something.
… Manuela has been polishing the toilets with a cotton bud, and though they may be gilded with gold leaf, they are just as filthy and reeking as any toilets on the planet, because if there is one thing the rich do share with the poor, however unwillingly, it is their nauseating intestines that always manage to find a place to free themselves of that which makes them stink.
When Manuela arrives, my lodge is transformed into a palace, and a picnic between two pariahs becomes the feast of two monarchs. Like a storyteller transforms life into a shimmering river where trouble and boredom vanish far below the water, Manuela metamorphoses our existence into a warm and joyful epic.
My mother is no longer a child but she apparently has not managed to conceive that Constitution and Parliament (cats) possess no more understanding than the vacuum cleaner.
They are utterly spineless and anaesthetised, emptied of all emotion.
“I thought: pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language.”

“If you have but one friend, make sure you choose her well.”

“People aim for the stars, and they end up like goldfish in a bowl. I wonder if it wouldn’t be simpler just to teach children right from the start that life is absurd.”

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”

“Personally I think that grammar is a way to attain beauty.”

“I find this a fascinating phenomenon: the ability we have to manipulate ourselves so that the foundation of our beliefs is never shaken.”

“I have finally concluded, maybe that’s what life is about: there’s a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same. It’s as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within never. Yes, that’s it, an always within never.”

The Abundance Book – John Randolph Price


Money is an effect. When you concentrate on the effect, you’re forgetting the cause, and when you forget the cause, the effect begins to diminish. When you focus your attention on getting money, you’re actually shutting off your supply. You must begin this very moment to cease believing that money is your substance, your supply, your support, your security, or your safety. Money isn’t—but God is! When you understand and realize this Truth, the supply flows uninterrupted into perfect and abundant manifestation. You must look to God alone as the Source, and take your mind completely off the outer effect.