Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

Rahima is a girl growing up in Afghanistan in 2007.  Her family needs her help, as her father has become an opium addict, unable to provide for them.  Rahima has only sisters and in order for her family to survive, they employ an old custom,  bacha posh, which allows Rahima to dress and act as a boy until she is of marriageable age.

Rahima and her sisters wait anxiously for their aunt's visits and the story she tells them of their great-great grandmother, Shekiba.  Rahima is not the first in their family to dress as a boy.  Shekiba carried out this practice years ago herself.

Rahima and Shekiba's stories run parallel to each other, despite the fact that many years separate them.  Women in Afghanistan are no better off today than they were in the early 1900s.  Both women are married off without their consent and treated as property.  As women, neither of them have any say in what will happen to them.

Hashimi's novel is one I didn't want to put down. She has managed to create a realistic (although depressing) view of life for women in Afghanistan.  And despite the sorrow these women experience, their spirits continue to remain unbroken, looking forward to the future.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I've been reading about the practice; did the grandmother's experience with the practice help her prepare her granddaughter for some of the problems she might run into?