This piece was inspired by an article I read in the Washington Post about A School of Music for Women in Afghanistan that was destroyed by the Taliban and turned into a bunker for their operation. Only some of the women were able to escape. Some Americans who were assisting the escape efforts are now trapped and many women and girls are in hiding. Many are dead.
Those who came to the school from a nearby orphanage who funneled talented girls to the Institute currently feel dead inside, because the very thing that gave their life meaning is now against the Taliban’s law, and they fear they may never get to play music again. One girl sneaks an online music course and plays an invisible instrument to at least keep her mind’s connection to song alive. She does this very quietly so her Taliban sympathetic neighbors will not hear.
This poem is for them.
To seek to love without judgement by giving your gift to the world, this is your task.
But how, you ask?
When the monsters are outside with their ability to climb so high
and let the blood trickle down and drown the flowers in sorrow.
When you can’t walk on the ground with bare feet anymore because it’s full of glass and shrapnel
from when they bombed the temple.
Holy mother in gleaming colors between the panes blown apart, her pieces in the dirt,
rendering what gave you life inert.
All songs forbidden, a choice not given for the rest of a song maker’s days.
To be what you are is deemed heinous to God.
To breathe a melody is a great risk in the Jihad.
What do you do with the music in your heart when righteous men have outlawed art?
Do you freeze it in time and die inside, or do you whisper to keep it alive behind closed doors
and away from killing eyes?
Do you bury it in a capsule a dreamer may find,
someday in the future when the war has moved onto another land,
and a girl can imagine again because men cannot read her mind?
If they could, every woman would be doomed, and the bloodline would be gone for good.
They keep a tight grip but cannot hold your heart, because it’s too big.
And you may have to let it sleep for a while, even though you were born to give
through the beauty in your veins.
That which no other can ever contain, especially without eyes to see or ears to hear.
Some tell you not to give up because help is near, but you know not everyone will make it out alive.
And you’ve seen what happens when your sisters try, and now you must be very quiet while you hide.
But one day those men’s God is gonna let go of them, because he got tired of a word of men,
because it was never whole without the soul of women.
Then that God’s gonna let his other half sing, for the beauty to return to the land and wash it clean.
When that day comes you can play your song again, and everyone around will finally understand,
it was never wrong. It was only love you wanted to share all along.
Copyright © 2021, S. Naify
#Afghanistan #AfghanWomen #AfghanistanNationionalInstituteofMusic #AfghanOrchestra
Having Middle Eastern heritage, and being a woman, a writer, and a musician, this issue touches me deeply, though I’m sure it would regardless. Having at one time practiced Islam, I can wholeheartedly say that Islamic extremists are not a representation of Islam as a whole.