Monday, December 11, 2006

I wish you strength

I chatted with a young girl about the bathroom situation in the Kabul Airport. One for women, two for men and no lights for the women!

On her way to the U.S. for the first time, she wore a light pink scarf that brought out the pink in her cheeks. Swathed in a another light orange scarf, the one with the embroidery that only older women wear, covered her almost commpletely – she fiddled with it as we spoke. Tears welled up periodically and I attempted to cheer her up about her big move to Afghanistan.

She was with her much shorter, much older new husband. Dressed in black, he kept a watchful eye on her as we made small talk. She was going to Fremont and I told her that she should go to the Masjid there, there would be plenty of ways to make friends.

He grilled me on the penalties I had to pay when I missed my flight because of snow last year and then turned his back towards me. I left them.

I saw her again later. She started to tear up and I made sympathetic small talk, volunteering my Khala to look for her in the masjid in Fremont and introduce her to others. Except for her new, short, old husband – she didn’t have any family at all in the U.S.

She looked at her husband who wasn’t paying attention, shook her head no quickly, and whispered, “He’s strict. Look at my clothes. He won’t let me out.” She adjusted her old lady scarf

I said, “Well, at the masjid?” She clucked no, looked over at him quickly, frightened.

He turned to talk to me, I tried to chat with him, to discuss family that I have in California and the only relative that he knew, he didn’t seem to like.

I smiled reassuringly at the girl, told her I’d be back later but decided against it – I don’t want to get him angry with her already.

There are thousands of stories like hers but it hurts each time.

4 comments:

omg said...

That makes me so sad. :-( I hope she will be okay.

But ... the paragraph about the bathrooms makes me laugh because, well, you have to laugh, or else you might cry. They are a funny sort of sad, things like that. I would like Freud to get a hold of that info.

K-Oh said...

This is a sad story.

Where had she moved from?

Aiee, the Kabul airport. When people here ask me if I was ever afraid in Afghanistan, I say no-- truthfully--except at the airport. I have a whole range of anxieties centered at the airport.

homeinkabul said...

O: I hope she'll be okay too. Yeesh, Freud would love Kabul with all of its dysfunctions.

K: I think her family lived in Iran. She was so young. Could easily pass for a young teenager, playing dress-up. Which, I guess she was.

Re the airport: Girl, you and me both - just thinking about the Kabul airport hurts my stomach.

koonj said...

:( me too.
It's like functioning in a police state. All the bloody time.