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This is difficult for me to write about but I did it. In this country, a naked face is almost the same as fully bared breasts. My husband is informed of my escape, and he finds me and brings me home. “I have been here for three months and have been allowed out only five or six times,” I write in my diary.
I repeat the words: “There is one God, Allah, and Mohammed was his prophet.” I am now a Muslim — at least in my mother-in-law’s eyes — but that still isn’t enough for her. She calls me “Yahud” or “Jew.” When I complain to my husband, he dismisses me as being dramatic. Looking both ways, I walk out feeling like a criminal. “Is this imprisonment meant to tame me, break me, teach me to accept my fate as an Afghan woman?
My temperature climbs to 105 degrees, but I receive no sympathy from my family.
My dad worked door-to-door selling soda and seltzer. My husband’s father owns a compound comprised of numerous two-story European-style houses where the various families sleep with patios, expensive Afghan wool carpeting, indoor gardens, and verandas. Because of my foreign stomach, the foods — kebabs, rice dishes, yogurts, nuts — are baked with Crisco instead of ghee, an evil-smelling, rancid, clarified butter that is loved by locals but wreaks havoc on a non-native’s stomach.
I am only 20, and I am now a member of this household, which consists of one patriarch, three wives, 21 children (who range in age from infancy to their 30s), two grandchildren, at least one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law and an unknown number of servants and relatives. The smell of ghee alone can make you throw up if you’re unused to it. He speaks Dari (even though I cannot) and leaves me with the other women. And I will spend every morning and afternoon that follows alone with my mother-in-law and female relatives. Secretly I stow away canned goods that I indulge on in the brief moments that I’m left alone.
Two years after returning, I get my marriage to Abdul-Kareem annulled.
I’ve never told this story in detail before, but felt that I must now.