I read The Sewing Circles of Herat last year. Hosted book club at my house. My husband and boys dressed up like Pashtuns and served us all tea.
At the same time, NEWSPEAK! was calling for real-life survival stories.
The confluence of those two influences led me to write the following words (with minor revisions) just over a year ago:
I have survived 12 years of marriage to a short-tempered squirrel-shooter who grew up in Afghanistan as the son of a diplomat.
I have not survived marriage to a short-tempered Afghan tribal warrior.
I survived English Lit 101, strolling through campus to class with a backpack full of books, paper, and pens.
I have not survived reading James Joyce knowing I could be hanged for doing so, having smuggled in books, paper, and pens under sewing materials in my handbag.
I survived the reelection of George Bush in 2004 when we thought the world would end.
I have not survived a military coup in which two of my cousins, my brother, and my uncle were all captured, tortured, and murdered.
I survived a body cast for four months when I was one, hot and itchy and immobile.
I have not survived years as a woman in a burqa, hot and itchy and invisible.
I survived two pregnancies and two natural childbirths.
I have not survived a bloody miscarriage in a war-torn country.
I have survived my boys playing war games with guns and swords in the backyard.
I have not survived my boys being given Kalishnikovs on their 5th birthdays.
I survived my father leaving my mother for his secretary when I was four years old.
I have not survived my father being dragged by his feet down the hallway by a dozen men with rifles, never to see him again.