The dancing girls of Kabul

She knows she’s going to the same men that Ma goes to. She knows she’s being sold to the Devil.

Noor Ejaz May 19, 2013
Blindness takes control and she exhales. She’s been engulfed by darkness and the pleasure of it all just gives her inner peace. She did what she had to. She knew it was all in vain but she can finally feel salvation seep through her being and she feels relieved.

She feels death calling her and telling her that it’s time to go - that it’s time to finally let go. They’ve taken away her identity, but they couldn’t ever take away her zeal, her individuality and more importantly, her rebellion. Her bloodied legs tell her to stand; her battered lips breathe lullabies of a childhood unlived; her bruised ears hear laughter and cries of a woman unknown and her broken fingers raise themselves in mercy.

What has she done? Was she born with this demon inside her; is this curse inherent? Light is seeping into her being now and she’s trembling. Within the next five seconds, Laiba’s breath fails her and she falls to the ground as death engulfs her in its arms forever…

April 15, 1985

Ma thinks Laiba is an impressionable young child but Laiba knows better. She knows where her Ma is taking her. She knows she’s going to the same men that Ma goes to. She knows because they’ve gazed into her piercing gray eyes one too many times and turned away.

There’s something about her face. There’s a darkness that’s almost enchanting. There’s something about her that makes the 12-year-old look like she’s blossomed already.

As they both trek along the rugged hills of Kabul, Laiba knows what’s in store for her. She knows she’s being sold to the Devil and her Ma is the Devil’s keeper. She knows she’s internally dead the second the big iron gates clang shut behind her.

July 19, 1990

Her eyes shift back and forth as they watch her dance. They call themselves the keepers of religion and the sanctimonious guardians of faith. It becomes harder for her not to spit in disgust. The darkness inside her is ablaze; shades of orange and red dance with the blackness in her being. She can never forget the first night of ritualistic rape. They picked her apart till there was nothing left of her except for what she thought was her mind. They spat at her, beat her numb for days and gnawed at her till she knew she wasn’t human anymore.

Laiba’s pregnancy was jeered upon. Her baby was spat on the day she was born. They aren’t men. They’re savages. She wishes God would destroy them bit by bit, piece by piece, just as they had destroyed her.

December 20, 1995

They’re beating her again. They’re punishing her for not succumbing to their “pure” desires. Have they ever even seen the light of purity? What is Laiba’s fault anyway? Is it simply the fact that she refuses to let these men tear apart the virtue of her six-year-old daughter?

They want to sell Malaya to the Devil. They want to make her as filthy as her mother. A battered and bleeding Laiba’s humanity breaks down to nothingness as they drag away her child for the first and last time.

December 31, 1995

Laiba walks into his room. She’s dressed in her best clothes with her braid oiled perfectly and set on her shoulder like a python ready to strike. Her bangles echo into the night and she looks down. She cannot set her sight upon him or her little girl. She cannot bear to see Malaya’s dead body bleeding and discarded.

Her baby died because of this man’s lust. She died because he thirsted upon her childhood. The lights go out and suddenly, the darkness within takes over. She knows not what she is meant to do. She knows not her intention. All she knows is that her baby died and this man did it.

She eyes the dagger next to the lamp. He is blinded by her and she knows she is in control. In a sudden flair of rage and hysteria, she snatches the knife and plunges it into his chest. She plunges it for Malaya, for Ma, for herself, for the pain she’s suffered and lastly for God. The clock strikes twelve and a new year starts. This could be her chance to start over.

March 12, 1996

She treks along those hills once again. Yet, this time, she’s a free woman. Her demon is moralistic. Her curse is virtuous. Her being is bound by tarnished purity. She’s free but she’s lost her strength to move on. She’s taken her revenge and now her demons can leave her.

The black hues swirl into a starlit sky as death comes to greet her at last…

Noor Ejaz An LLB student currently studying at the University College of Lahore, Noor loves Urdu Literature, Pakistan, the Walled City of Lahore, Bollywood, women rights and food. She tweets as @
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

Facebook Conversations