some thoughts lately

if the purpose of a writer is to pay attention to things that most other people don’t notice and to illustrate the extraordinary in ordinary situations, then i feel that i have often failed in these tasks. i don’t know why i do this, but i often avert my eyes from details that i should be paying attention to. and, while i don’t know if the exact clinical definition of disassociation applies to me, i think i disassociate a lot (self-diagnosed). i’m stuck in the past while in the present, and while i’m in the present, i think of the future. i’m detached from my feelings most of the time. i question the way that i feel, but i know, in the back of my mind, the way that i feel is true.


I vacillate between wanting to clutch the quran
close to my heart and tearing it, ripping out
the pages, burning all the verses. I guess I ought to be grateful that I can express this, in America. But I feel that I would have been the same had I been living in Afghanistan. 

Today my mother made me feel guilty, again, about my future plans. She says I’m leaving her all alone, that she doesn’t have anyone to vouch for her at home. That she would have preferred I stayed at home with her, found a job near home, saved some money, been close to her. 

Alone is a funny word. I tried to explain that she wasn’t alone and it’s not like I’m leaving forever or that I won’t come back to visit. Still, she says, she doesn’t have any close family nearby. What will she do when my brother, her last child, leaves the house? She’s going to be alone and that’s hard for her. 

I am torn between victim and victimizer. Am I being selfish? Am I being cruel to my mom? Yes, she has had a difficult life: losing her own mom at 18, leaving her home country because of war, being stuck in a loveless marriage for more than 30 years with a husband who wouldn’t let her work in America, which has left our family constantly near or at the federal poverty line, putting her life’s desires and ambitions permanently on hold to be a housewife. To uphold a certain ideal, to show the image of a nice family by covering up the dysfunction and rot inside. By not leaving. By not getting a divorce because that’s dishonorable. Because divorce is not something good women do. 

On top of all this, she gets a lesbian daughter who, for obvious reasons, can’t stay at home with her forever. 

But how much more can I attempt to rationalize this?

Is my mom just trying to guilt-trip me and manipulate me into doing what she wants? Would she be reacting the same way to my moving out from home (again) if I was getting married to a nice Afghan man? 

Nobody in my family has really asked what I want in my life. And now I realize that my mom wouldn’t be happy or satisfied in any situation where I get to decide my destiny. Because the act of decision making was taken away from her and she can’t imagine a world where an unmarried girl can make her own decisions. 


A little distance is healthy sometimes.


on patience and islam

anyone who has ever said “patience is a virtue” has never met my parents.

how can i be patient when all they, especially my mom, ever do is waste my time and make my life 10x harder than it already is?

also either i really hate myself or i really hate my mom. she listens to her religious TV programming religiously and encourages me to do the same. but whenever i hear anything recited in arabic nowadays, all i want to do is punch somebody in the face.

it’s not that i don’t want to understand what they’re saying (i don’t know arabic). it’s that i don’t care. i don’t care that some arabic script meant for me to dress a certain way, behave a certain way, desire a certain way. in fact i doubt the Qur’an is even speaking to me, a queer muslim woman of color, at ALL.

i’ll respect my mother’s idea of islam but her demanding forced obedience of me is exhausting. how do i translate that to Pashto? how do i maintain patience?

another list of things on my mind lately

  1. why is it so exhausting to be in the same room with my dad, much less have conversations with him? it’s like he doesn’t know me, like we’re almost complete strangers. he’ll ask questions that he already knows the answers to (or should know the answers to). like, how did i feel after moving away from my last place. or how do i feel about x, y, or z. things i’ve talked about before. but why do i expect so much?
  2. i haven’t had a single good night’s sleep over the past week. people in my house are usually awake and making noise at odd hours of the night.
  3. if i had a cat, my life would be 100x better.
  4. i don’t get why children are supposed to be so reverential toward their parents. sure, you may have sacrificed a lot and put your dreams on hold forever. but i never asked to be born. i never asked to be born into this existence, into this life, into this terrible, fucked up world. so why should i be thankful that you kept a roof over my head and made sure i was fed and clothed? i didn’t ask for this, i didn’t ask for any of this. and yes i realize this makes me sound like a bitter ungrateful 16 year old. maybe i need to see a therapist. or i’ll just keep writing on here.
  5. why is Steve McCurry celebrated worldwide? we know his name and we’ve seen his voyueristic images, but we are not as familiar with the name of folks like the “Afghan Girl,” which by the way is Sharbat Gula. don’t get his new book. support afghan women’s writing instead.
  6. why do white people want to study my culture? isn’t it enough that your fellow white brothers and sisters fucked up my country in the first place? now you want to study it too?? get the fuck outta here.
  7. i am also so exhausted of hearing the news about afghanistan. it is too mentally draining to think about. i went back to school partly to try and find like-minded afghans to organize around the issues of war and education and refugees. i did find them but when we were talking about local politics at some point, one of the afghan doctoral students said she was worried about the legalization of marijuana and the bad example it sets for young kids. i was thinking how if this is her major concern, what about everything else? i’m tired of organizing, tired of afghans, tired of war.
  8. after years of repression and my parents stamping desire out of my body, i think i’m afraid of sex.
  9. i understand why some afghan girls become escorts or join the military. it’s because our parents and our culture suffocate them, choke their ambitions, snuff out the light. so of course we run away and try to find a different path.
  10. i wonder if there will come a time where i don’t need this blog. maybe when i die.

a list of things on my mind lately

  1. why is everything rose gold these days? why does a trash can come in a rose gold color?
  2. in a casual conversation, why does the white lesbian woman at work mention her wife and starting a family here? i might not be visibly queer or visibly lesbian (whatever that means), but it sucks to be reminded of the things you can’t have. my face drops all expression and i lose all interest in talking to her. i turn away. i’d love to have a kid and a dog and live in a mountain somewhere with my partner too, but take your love of hiking elsewhere and shut the fuck up about your nice little family. lesbians are the worst.
  3. is watching the L word and Orange Is the New Black a measure of how queer you are? if so, i wouldn’t be queer at all because (almost) everyone in the L word sucks and Piper is a stupid dumbass.
  4. i’m dreading my move from this city at the end of the month. i don’t know where i’m going next. my plan is to get to the west coast. how do i explain my future murky plans to my overly-concerned parents? why do they ask so many questions?
  5. the white guy at work mentions how he originally started working there: because his mom works for the same company. i’m about to lose my shit. you’ve been working here for the past 5 years every summer since you graduated from undergrad and now you get this full-time job handed to you? he’s not that smart. mediocrity wins again.
  6. why am i so bitter?
  7. what if i said all these things to people’s faces tho?
  8. what if


i feel like i have lost the flavor in my life. every time i think i’ve made a decision about where to go next, i think of all the roadblocks ahead of me. all the lying to my family that i will have to do. all the negotiations that i will have to make in order to live authentically me.

when i think of my future, i think of wanting to adopt children with my girlfriend. i think of wanting to buy a house with my girlfriend.

i am often on the verge of tears because it seems impossible in my mind.

i thought that once you leave your parents’ house, things will become easier. in some ways, they have. but they also become difficult in other ways. they are difficult because you feel alone and the anxiety you developed at home has stayed with you, maybe been exacerbated in some ways, and you end up feeling like you can’t reach out to anyone who has been in your situation.

i constantly feel like i’m running out of time. this is a different strain of maddening mind behavior.

maybe it’s grad school. maybe it’s the onset of winter.

i hope it’s not me.

Can we mourn?

When I first heard about the massacre in Orlando, Florida on Pulse nightclub, I was very triggered. I started crying and staring at the tv screen blankly, telling myself that this wasn’t really happening, was it? Here was I, a young, queer, Afghan-american Muslim woman, standing at the crossroads of identities that are used by the media and the state to fuel their agendas. It was Latin night at Pulse and many of those in attendance were celebrating life, the lives of Latinx people, black and brown bodies filling the building.

After the speculations and rumors emerged that the shooter is an Afghan american man named Omar Mateen – the media made sure to point out that his parents are from Afghanistan – people’s attentions focused on the racist media coverage instead of reflecting on the tragedy of 49 lives lost in a hate-filled attack.

I can’t mourn the deaths of queer people of color publicly, because my Afghan community doesn’t believe we exist. I can’t mourn the deaths of queer people of color publicly, because my American community doesn’t acknowledge our pain. Where can I mourn? Can I mourn? Can we mourn?

His ex-wife says he was mentally ill. We can’t derail the conversation about how we, americans, don’t value the lives of queer people, especially queer people of color. Since the foundation of U.S. empire, queer and trans people of color are assaulted every day, on the streets and in our homes–whether through verbal abuse and/or murder–and the government continually passes laws that criminalize our existence. Where does it say that we value Q/TPOC that we can be shocked by this tragic incident?

Opportunists have taken this moment of mourning and they have bastardized it to fulfill their agenda of repeating racist views, of talking about policy reform, about denying the existence of LGBTQ people in America.

I just want to scream. I need this madness to stop. This hurts so much.

Stop publishing your opinion pieces. Stop taking up so much fucking space and let us mourn.

The NGO Occupation of Afghanistan: the case of Women for Afghan Women

The US-led war in Afghanistan, begun on October 7, 2001, is now the longest running officially declared war in US history. Do not be fooled by all the talks in recent years of a troop withdrawal and an end to the war, because the freshly appointed US defense secretary, Ashton Carter, has proposed an even slower troop pullout. President Obama’s pledges to “end the war in Afghanistan in 2014” are mostly empty words, but let’s not pin this solely on the US. In fact, let us entirely abolish our US-centric ways of thinking.

The US is not the only one working to the detriment of the Afghan people.

There are Afghans living within the diaspora and within Afghanistan itself, such as the organization Women for Afghan Women (WAW), who are accepting of the current military occupation and indeed are cooperating with military officials. Case in point: WAW paints the narrative in Afghanistan and the plight of women there narrowly and solely in terms of the violence inflicted by the Taliban. At the end of April 2014, their advocacy manager, Parnian Nazary, testified in Washington DC before the Senate’s subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs and asked for greater focus on women’s rights in Afghanistan. Nazary reaffirms the group’s mission statement: “We at Women for Afghan Women believe it’s vital some U.S. led international troops stay in Afghanistan, supporting and training our military while also symbolically assuring the Afghan people they won’t again be abandoned by the international community.”

No mention is made in their official communications of the night raids re-authorized by president Ashraf Ghani or the constant drone attacks (of which we hear very little about anyway, as there is no official record kept of the number of people murdered by such attacks). We do not hear from WAW about the current wars in Balochistan or Waziristan, because to do so would upset the lucrative money-making machine they have set up for themselves in the name of “women’s rights” and“human rights.” Yes, we are also seeing the destruction of Afghanistan and its people by Iranian and Pakistani imperialism. So, if Women for Afghan Women were to complicate the narrative in Afghanistan, this would mean that the violence against Afghan women and children and men, queer/trans Afghan people, and all oppressed Afghan ethnic minorities, comes from other sources in addition to the Taliban. To complicate WAW’s narrative would force its staff to examine their philosophy of a military-friendly feminism and confront the reality of an occupied Afghanistan.

Protecting women, and all oppressed people, does not mean embracing a military occupation. You cannot claim to be fighting for “women’s rights” and then turn around to say that you are not against the military. Tanks, drone attacks, and military occupations will not “save” anyone.