Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'll Never Return

I've been reading a biography of an Afghan woman called Zoya's Story. It's really good. I got started on my Afghanistan kick when I decided to show my students The Kite Runner (also really good - both the book and the film) as part of our human rights lesson.

Zoya is a young woman who flees Afghanistan in 1992 (just 4 years before the Taliban take over) and begins working with an organization called Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) to document and distribute information about the human rights abuses occurring there.

From RAWA's website, we learn about Zoya:
As a child in Kabul, she accompanied her brave mother as she spread the word of RAWA throughout the city. That Zoya should carry on her mother's work is a tribute to her faith in the future of her country. When Zoya was approached by two foreign journalists who encouraged her to share her story in a book, Zoya asked, "What is special about my story?"
Sadly, Zoya's story is not special in Afghanistan, save her commitment to continue fighting for women's rights. Many, many, many girls and women suffered lives of equal horror to Zoya. Many more suffered far worse.

My point in this post... Zoya shares part of a poem written by Meena, the founder of RAWA. Meena was assassinated in 1987, but her work continues through the brave women who risk their lives on a daily basis for love of their home, Afghanistan.

I love Meena's poem, and I just wanted to share it in its entirety here, both in English and its original Persian. Although I can't relate to "rivulets of my brother's blood" or "henna-handed brides with mourning clothes," there is much about this poem that speaks to me. "I'm the woman who has awoken... No longer regard me as weak and incapable... I've found my path and will never return."

I'm the woman who has awoken
I've arisen and become a tempest through the ashes of my burnt children
I've arisen from the rivulets of my brother's blood
My nation's wrath has empowered me
My ruined and burnt villages fill me with hatred against the enemy,
I'm the woman who has awoken,
I've found my path and will never return.
I've opened closed doors of ignorance
I've said farewell to all golden bracelets
Oh compatriot, I'm not what I was
I'm the woman who has awoken
I've found my path and will never return.
I've seen barefoot, wandering and homeless children
I've seen henna-handed brides with mourning clothes
I've seen giant walls of the prisons swallow freedom in their ravenous stomach
I've been reborn amidst epics of resistance and courage
I've learned the song of freedom in the last breaths, in the waves of blood and in victory
Oh compatriot, Oh brother, no longer regard me as weak and incapable
With all my strength I'm with you on the path of my land's liberation.
My voice has mingled with thousands of arisen women
My fists are clenched with the fists of thousands of compatriots
Along with you I've stepped up to the path of my nation,
To break all these sufferings, all these fetters of slavery,
Oh compatriot, Oh brother, I'm not what I was
I'm the woman who has awoken
I've found my path and will never return.


  1. Very, very powerful poem. I like it very much, it speaks to me and I am sure most women. WOW.

    I loved the book Kite Runner, but could not bring myself to see the movie. I loved the rich details in the book, although painful to read at times.

    Going to check out the other one you mentioned.

  2. Have you read anything by Ayaan Hirsi Ali? She's not from Afghanistan, but she is from a Muslim country. She lived in three as a child, I believe. Her book Infidel is especially good.



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