Najib, my bald, ugly, uneducated, and misogynistic cousin, with whom I argued for women’s rights, and who said to me, “I’ll shorten your long tongue and you’ll pay for that in time, I’ll get you!” proposed to me one day. He proposed to me to my parents, a wrong thing that is a rule in Afghanistan. That parents decide for children.
He was the fourth person I had rejected that month. In the village, however, the custom was that if you put a pillow on the girl when she is standing and she does not fall, then she is ready to be married. But I wanted to go to school and university and become a doctor. I was sure that if I married Najib, he would never let me study.
But nothing mattered to my mother but a life with me married, even if it was a painful life. She was afraid that I would go the way that she did not go, and that’s why she insisted that I become a slave of Najib, so that I would forget the thought of that strange life, education!
She used to say: “They said you’re small, you’re small. You also believe it?”
By that, she meant my teachers who supported me and told her I was too young to marry. But my mom disagreed.
“Who says you are small?” she said. “Look at your peers. Each of them has two or three children. Look at Fayeqa! You were three years old when your uncle’s wife had just given birth to her. Your body is small. You are like your father’s tribe. Everyone is as small as a mouse. Others do not understand and do not know. I know. I gave birth to you myself.”
And so, just as she obligated my older sisters to marry, she wanted me to marry someone as soon as possible. And that made me angry. I wanted to say: Were we born to be servants of men?
I wanted to go near her. Make eye contact. Don’t be kind to her, don’t love her, don’t be embarrassed, and don’t cry and then roll my eyes and scream: “I told you to give birth to me? You don’t give birth, you don’t give birth, you don’t give birth…”
And to say this last thing so loudly and firmly that she will be filled with fear and amazement and the heads of our always curious neighbors will pop out from behind the door, window, and wall and stare at my voice.
The sound of Khadija’s mother’s men’s shoes slop and slop in the last step and at the same time as your mother’s slap takes you back, the curtain of the vestibule is pulled back. You want to Push, she will take her last breaths on the last steps. Go back quickly and comfort your dumb sister, your ass sister who is waiting to come.
Oh, how my sisters get on my nerves. I have to complete the work. I should not let her come and endure the miseries of this world. It is not difficult. It only takes one kick. A strong kick to the mother’s bloated stomach. I heard the doctor say so. He said: “Don’t worry, don’t take a heavy load, and more importantly, your diet should be healthy. You should consume fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, milk, dairy products, and high-quality fats. You should strengthen your body’s immune system during pregnancy.”
And then, when he was opening the device that I still don’t know the name of and that he puts on my mother’s arm every time, he added to my mother: “Your body is very weak. Your nutrition is not healthy. You have low blood. And if it continues like this and Ignore my advice, your child will die, so don’t forget to exercise, be happy, and eat healthily.”
But do we have money to buy healthy food? Did the mother have a happy time to understand what happiness is? Therefore, I was happy that if the doctor’s words were true, my sister would not be able to come. But she came. She was stronger than misfortunes. Now she knows how to talk and now I am writing this. She is crying that she would like to have a little brother and sister. Because Khadija’s mother, our neighbor, gave birth to her ninth child. Another girl. And they will try to force that girl, who has not yet understood life, into an unhappy and stupid marriage as me. And I will hold her hand, as I hold mine.
Although it will be difficult, we are all one. We should not let the stupidity destroy our lives.
Enough writing, tomorrow I have a language exam and also my first job interview. I have to study, study. Yes! I could overcome this. I need to show Najibs and opposing mothers that success has nothing to do with gender and that girls can do it too. As I am, I can.
30 October, 2023