Saturday, September 8, 2012

In My Father's Country by Saima Wahab

Once again, prompted to get a book based on an interview on The Daily Show ( Jon Stewart hasn't steered me wrong yet.

Saima was just a little girl in Afghanistan when the Russians were invading. She survived a bomb dropping on the room where she was sleeping, being hit by a bus, and being a woman in Afghanistan. Based on the book, she's an anomaly. Her dad was very progressive, so much so he had a radio show to encourage others to rebel. He was taken by the KGB and never returned. From there, the family went to the grandfather's village. The grandfather, or Baba, was another progressive soul who refused to treat the granddaughters in the fashion that other Afghan women were treated. The kids were sent on to America (Portland, OR) to live with uncles when they were young.

Saima obviously has a forceful personality, by her own admission, but she puts it to good use. Wanting to re-discover her father's country for herself, she signs up for a deployment with the US Army to be an interpreter. She then moves on to another job, still deployed in Afghanistan, still helping bridge the gap between the American soldiers and the Afghan people.

The way women are treated is heartbreaking. But it's encouraging that not all parents, not all families, treat the women this way. Saima had a great family that knew she was destined for greater things (When a son is born, fathers go out into the street to shoot guns. When Saima was born, her father went out and shot his gun. He thought she was going to do more than many sons.).

I got some interesting insight into a culture I just don't understand and also more empathy for the soldiers deployed over in a foreign land.
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