Version for “Tales of the Veils” website.
Not for reproduction on other websites or in any other publishing format without author’s permission.
Lights out tonight, trouble in the heartland
Got a head-on collision smashin’ in my guts man
I’m caught in a crossfire that I don’t understand
But there’s one thing I know for sure
I don’t give a damn for the same old played out scenes
I don’t give a damn for just the in-betweens
Honey I want the heart I want the soul I want control right now
Talk about a dream, try to make it real
You wake up in the night with a fear so real
Spend your life waiting for a moment that just don’t come
Well don’t waste your time waiting
Badlands you gotta live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay
We’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood
And these badlands start treating us good
Workin’ in the field till you get your back burned
Workin’ `neath the wheels till you get your facts learned
Baby I got my facts learned real good right now
You better get it straight darling
Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king
And a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything
I wanna go out tonight, I wanna find out what I got
Now I believe in the love that you gave me
I believe in the faith that could save me
I believe in the hope and I pray that some day
It will raise me above these
For the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside
That it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive
I wanna find one face that ain’t looking through me
I wanna find one place, I wanna spit in the face of these
© 1978 Bruce Springsteen
“NO!” her father shouts. “No matter how fine a family and no matter how important a man that says that he is a good boy, be it our beloved sheik or the president himself, I can not let go of my old promise to your uncle about letting his son marry you, when you are both old enough,” her father continues in a very loud voice. To Faridah it is an old played out scene. She knows about her father’s promise. She has known since she was old enough to understand the word ‘marriage’. But she doesn’t give a damn. Her father should have known that a promise reaching more than ten years out in the future would for certain collide with reality, when that day arrived, now.
She had met Tariq about a year ago just outside the bombed out room, that is now an open air girl school. In the dusty street he had been completely occupied by getting a glimpse of a pretty girl walking out, just before she disappeared under a burqa like most Afghan women above puberty. His bicycle had hit her bag and scattered her books and papers all around her. He quickly realized his mistake and collected all her belongings. As he put the things back in the bag, which she held open to him, she lifted her burqa to get a better look at who had bumped into her, and acted so nice afterwards. She had instinctly wanted to show him, who he had hit and helped. It was love at first sight. For both of them. Faridah had immediately let her burqa down again to avoid showing herself to those around them, who had watched the accident. She thanked him, was told his name, and then she had said she would try to leave school the following day during the afternoon hour long Quran lesson. It was easy leaving class anonymously, as they were all just listening in their burqas. And going away with Tariq was just as easy. No one could see that he was not accompanying his sister or another female relative. After that day Faridah didn’t hear much of the Quran lessons. She was always back in due time before the lesson ended to leave school along with the other girls. She was always picked up by her father’s donkey cart to be accompanied home. After meeting for some months she had asked Tariq to let someone in his family come up with a plausible story that showed her own family was a good match for them. He had, and her father had accepted the story, and was of course flattered that others had heard good about him, and was interested in a marriage. But he had declined. Several times. He would not go back on his word. Faridah had spend many nights thinking about what to do. She could spend her life waiting for her father to change his mind, or until her fears came through, and her cousin decided it was time for him to marry. Or she could go for her heart and run away with Tariq, which meant her family would denounce her.
There were no good choices, as her country didn’t have a bright future. It was all badlands. The countryside turning to desert. Where something can grow is opium. Everywhere is mine danger from decades of war. Towns are scarcely rebuilt ruins. Her own life was like her country. Badlands. One road leading out into the desert to a distant cousin, she had never met, for a hard life working in the fields between having children for her husband.
Well, she will not wait any longer. She believes in her love of Tariq. She believes that God will lead them to a safe place somewhere. She hopes and prays that someday they will find a place, where they can live out their dreams. A place with water, a place where they can earn for their living without working themselves to death in a town with well-maintained houses, where the neighbors help each other in stead of pointing guns, afraid that visitors are someone coming to steal what little they have. Faridah and Tariq have talked about the distant Europe.
Faridah has a notion deep inside, that one day she will be there with Tariq. They have made it so far. She loves Tariq and is glad she is still alive. She will go for that place, where men are not looking through women. She will go now. She doesn’t give a damn about her father, uncle, cousin and the family honor. If her father was awake, she would spit in his face just to see him out of control once. But she doesn’t. She just silently rises among her sleeping family. Takes her burqa and the hidden bag with a few belongings and walks silently out to the waiting Tariq. Perhaps she is now breaking her mothers heart, and maybe her cousin has loved the photo of her, but someone has to pay the price. If Faridah and Tariq reach Europe they will take an education, that may make them wanted in their country one day.
Copyright © 2007, Bo_Emp ; bo_emp ‘at’ yahoo ‘dot’ com
Author’s note: The meeting of Faridah and Tariq is inspired by the movie ‘At Five in the Afternoon’ by Samira Makhmalbaf.