One Half from the East
"'You'll be able to do what no other girl can do'
She gets my attention with that one.
'You're lucky to have this chance. Girls would kill to take
That is what my mother tells me. She's been chewing her lip for
the past three weeks, thinking about my aunt's suggestion to make me
into a boy...I don't know how people will react to me. I'm not even
sure how I'll react to me."
What was supposed to be a routine trip to the market drastically
changed the lives of Obayda's family. Her father was crippled by a
car bomb, losing his leg. He lost his job as a police officer and
retreated to his room. Desperate for help, the family--father,
mother, and four daughters--moved from the city of Kabul to the
countryside. After awhile the clan begins to resent their neediness.
If only there was a son to work and bring good luck!
In Afghanistan there is a way to acquire a temporary son. By
cutting her hair and wearing masculine attire a girl can become a
backa posh, a girl perceived to be and treated like a boy. It is
expected that she will transition back before puberty hits.
Try to imagine what it would be like to, at the age of ten,
overnight take on the traits and demeanor of a boy convincingly enough
to pass as male. Try to imagine what it's like to, after this brief
window of opportunity, go back to the restrictions of being a girl in
a severely patriarchal society. Better yet, read One Half from the
East and see.
"The bacha posh tradition exists because sons are valued in a
way daughters are not. It exists because there is a perception that
boys are capable of things girls are not. Are these thoughts unique
to Afghanistan? Sadly not at all.
There are many ways to devalue girls. It can be as flagrant as
barring girls from school or forcing them to become brides when they
should be learning how to read. It can be as insidious as jeering
that someone 'throws like a girl' or not blinking when a girl's voice
is interrupted by that of a boy."
Hashimi has written a book along the same lines for adult
readers: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. Keep your eyes on this
blog. I'll review it as soon as I can get my hands on it. :)
On a personal note, I went to the UMaine Graduate School Open House.
It was super well organized and highly inspiring. Now I am even more
strongly convinced that the program in higher education student
development is my promised land.
A great big shout out goes out to all who worked hard to create such a
welcoming open house for prospective students!
Sent from my iPod