I write for female voices that often do not get heard; not even by other females...
This poem, from my book, The Afghan Mona Lisa, focuses on one such tragedy: that of child marriages. (Click here for educational video)
After investigating and listening to long hours of heartbreaking stories by Afghan women in numerous countries around the world for over ten years, I found that this practice is common not because of a dominating patriarchy, but because the mothers and grandmothers arrange these marriages and force their children into them.
Yes, it is mostly the women of the family who most tragically pass on the cruel tradition of child marriage.
I found it even more astonishing to find child brides common among Afghans in Hamburg, Germany where I was doing fieldwork.
My passion is to educate the Afghan mothers, grandmothers, and the daughters on how critical it is for this oppressive tradition to end. For only then will little girls be able to play with their dolls instead of attending to their much older husbands.
If the current trend continues, more than 100 million more young girls will be married over the next decade.
Although I cannot claim what these girls and women have experienced completely, I have exerted years of love recording their narratives for them, which I’ve poured into my writings.
Although they are my words, nevertheless, they represent the valuable voices of these young girls: it is their fighting spirit that speaks to us, as we hear generations of suffering echoed. I am blessed to have been favored as an unassuming envoy for their voices.
May we women hear one another’s pain and respond to it with heartfelt empathy, lest we injure our very selves.
(Scroll down to hear Anosha recite her poem)
The early days of my adolescence short lived
An unwanted guest at the door arrived
Before the nurturing is carried out
An exhorted bride displayed to dive
Unfortunate was the day they found my concealed hive
Forced to swiftly ripen was my arranged prize
The derisory nuptial offerings of garments awfully oversized
Nervous to declare refusal, I was given a termination of chastise
It is the noble passageway, so I was told by the very wise
I took with me only a beloved doll to my new abode
Presented in my small hands a new guidebook
Whilst my address was permanently changed to a secret code
Oblivious, with a naive head, I was showered with a mule’s load
My doll was removed from my bed the very first night
I was informed to play the pastime game of a new bride
The old man reeking of opium broke open my purity’s rite
I screamed and roared as he robbed my every indispensable human right
Soon I was replaced as a unit of the household
As things are procured in the bazaar, purchased, and sold
When new things come in the market, it is customary to replace the old
Unassumingly accepting my ill faith as the village elders’ saga foretold.
(Push play to hear Anosha recite her poem)
Anosha Roya Zereh, born in Kabul, was three when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Her father, a UN employee apprehensive for his safety under the communist regime, fled his beloved nation for India in 1985. The Zereh family was eventually granted asylum in the United States in 1987. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Anosha has been a humanitarian working to improve the lives of Afghan orphaned children through education in Afghanistan and locally in Fremont, California, often referred to as the “Little Kabul” of the West. Anosha is a social activist working with orphaned children and widowed woman in Afghanistan, and the author of The Afghan Mona Lisa available here. She is the Founder and Director of the Dari Language Institute for Afghan Children and lives with her two children and husband in Berkeley, California. Connect with Anosha via her blog here, or on Facebook.
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