My Sister

By Zabi Azimi

Zahra always says: “Zabi! My crazy loving brother, don’t cry. A man doesn’t cry. Don’t you know crying makes you look like a girl? All boys have similar habits to girls, but you, you are different. You are the girliest boy I’ve ever seen in my life, believe me.” And then she laughs loudly, nervously, but we both know that I am a man, but I can’t be a man who doesn’t cry. All men cry, but they do it secretly. But I can’t control my feelings so I say to my tears; “Hey tears, come secretly, flow when no one is around, alright?” Zahra understands because she understands me.

I can’t help but cry, get upset and angry, and even curse. The kind of country the cruel ruler has created is more terrible and bitter than all the novels, songs, movies, and series Zahra I watched together.

Like Hava, in the Afghan film “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha”, who was caught in the prison of patriarchy and had to bear the heavy burden of her father-in-law’s and her husband’s orders. This upset us. We hated characters who enjoy the withering of other people’s dreams, we hated them very much, and strangely, we always wanted to hate them. Life is a movie. A real movie. In movies, bad guys always enjoy hurting others. People who think they have the power to kill life and therefore their dirty hands are always weaving a rope to strangle lives. They ruined their own lives and now they want to ruin the lives of others. But we always hated them and wanted to tell them.

Our hearts wanted to and wants to take that hand and thought that only knows how to bind and make you feel miserable and least tell: “Ms. and Mr. So-and-So that everything relates to you, believe me, nothing relates to you! Stop! After all, everyone is only allowed to make themselves miserable.”

These types of people are always around us, nosy people who enjoy interfering in other people’s lives and making decisions for others, and they always think they are wiser than us, and they belief that for this reason, every decision, even our life decisions, should be in their hands.

We don’t want to deceive ourselves. It’s awfully bad here. Not just for Zahra, but for me as well. Because Zahra means me. It hurts to see Zahra in the middle of this mud. She gets up every morning and sweeps three-story staircases and polishes kitchen tiles, and when she’s done she goes straight to the mirror to stare at herself, and she becomes hypnotized by her reflection. She stares and stares until I hit her on the shoulder to break whatever spell she is under. That’s when she crawls out of the mirror and sinks into her book. Engrossed in writing, walking in vain through the rooms and corridors.

I wanted to help her, because helping Zahra means helping me. To help her, I need to understand her, because if a person cannot understand another, how can he help? That’s why I allowed myself to read her diary. “Death has not acted yet,” it wrote, “life starts to kill you and it will take you to the point where the deceiving words: ‘Don’t worry and don’t be sad, nothing happened, everything will be good soon,’ can’t calm your heart anymore. I wish I wasn’t born. I wish I was a boy like Zabi.”

Since the day the Taliban closed girls’ schools, Zahra changed a hundred and eighty degrees. When I try to argue with her about something, she doesn’t give me counterarguments like she used t. She just remains silent. Sometimes she talks to herself. Sometimes she will open a book and silently run her finger across the pages as we sorrow the tears that were peacefully absorbed by the carpets in rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens of the past and unknown futures.

I hate this situation. I wanted her to have the same sense of humor as before, I wanted her to jump and laugh whenever I annoy her, I wanted her to runs with her unique and innocent so I run after her and run the pains away together and forget the sorrows like before.

20 October, 2023