Before Farkhunda’s memorial was built, Farkhunda’s mother cried. Before Farkhunda’s mouth screamed, “Allah Akbar! God help me!” Her hijab torn off. A car rolled over her abbayah clad body. The jeering men pummeled her with stones, kicked. Lynched her. Before the mullah, who sold condoms at the tomb, accused her of burning the Qur’an. Before her parents claimed the corpse. Before the village women carried her body, not men. Before her mother’s tears. Her voice dimming with each new assault. Her hijab and abbayah in ruins. Her body swollen, blood everywhere. The car. The taunts. The accusations. The rope around her neck. The Holy man with his condoms. The women attendees. Before the memorial’s defacement, there was a daughter, a graduate student of religious studies, who believed in memorials, honor, her family, and country. An educated woman in Afghanistan, one who wore her hijab and abbayah. A woman who obeyed the rules yet wasn’t afraid to confront a false witness who accused her of defacing the Holy Book. Before, the horror, was a little girl, whose mother gave her a name that means jubilation and auspicious in Persian, a little girl who became a woman who believed in change.
* Farkhunda Malikzada, commonly referred to as Farkhunda, was a 27-year-old woman who was publicly and brutally killed by a mob in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on 19 March 2015. (Source: Wikipedia)
Lucinda Kempe’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Breadcrumbs, Menacing Hedge, New South Journal, New World Writing, Midway Journal, Matter Press, The Southampton Review, and The Summerset Review. An excerpt from her memoir was short listed for the Fish Memoir Prize in April 2021. She lives on Long Island where she exorcises with words.
Photo by Danie Franco