Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Case You're Wondering...

I want to provide some updates to past blog entries:

Today we met Khodjia (pictured left), the younger sister of Khudaja, the 11-year-old bride. She is a sweet girl who sat in the back of her class and wandered through the playground alone as the other girls twirled around singing and laughing. Later, we went back to her home, and saw Khudaja and the aunt, their guardian. I can’t get one part of the conversation out of my head: “I don’t want to hit them,” the aunt told me, “but sometimes they drive me to it. Sometimes they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to, so I hit them.” Why was she telling me this? I didn’t even ask. “I can’t hide it from God,” she said. “So why should I hide it from you.”

I also found out that Khudaja’s wedding will most likely happen in three years—when she is 14 and the groom is 12.

After causing a little stir by filming burqa-clad women, we were told we would have to drive in a different car and take a different route. Today, we were in our same car, but did take a different route (and it seemed to us that for the last stretch of the drive –all dirt road—our driver really hit the gas).

(A burqa-clad mother picks her daughters up from school.)

I’m over the whole gender privilege idea. I’m already wearing loose, baggy, long clothing and have my head covered, but now I’ve been advised that--to be sure I don’t offend any men in the village--I should cover up even more. Enter the massive shawl. Still, in this village, that’s the equivalent of wearing a bikini. You will not find one woman—not one, not ever—out in public without a burqa. Gender privilege, my ass. It sucks to be a woman here.

As I mentioned, Deh Subz village is a very conservative Pashtun village. And although Pashtun is the tribe of the Taliban, terrorists have never been able to infiltrate this village. Based on what I found out today—I’m not sure why they’d need to! They already live in Tarakhail, the village next door! Tarakhail is the hometown of Gulbuden Hekmatyar who at this moment is probably looking across cave at his best buddie and roomie, Osama Bin Laden.

In lighter Deh Subz news—this village is the planned site of The New City of Kabul. There’s a 30-year plan to build a new capital city here. Plans include a park that is five times the size of New York’s Central Park.

I’m saving the best for last… A new student registered at the Zabuli School this morning. When the principal asked her father to sign the registration paperwork, he admitted, “I’m illiterate. I only went to school through the third grade.” The principal took out her stamp pad, and the father used his thumbprint to sign. “I want her to be a doctor or a teacher some day,” he said about his 6-year-old daughter. Incredible. Limping because of a war injury, he hobbled out of the school as the principal escorted his daughter to her kindergarten class. The look of anticipation and awe on her face when she was handed her very first notebook and pencil brought tear s to my eyes.

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