"In June 2002, Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman from the impoverished village of Meerwala, was gang raped by a local clan known as the Mastoi -- punishment for indiscretions allegedly committed by the woman's brother. While certainly not the first account of a female body being negotiated for honor in a family, this time the survivor had bravely chosen to fight back…"
Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan by Ahmed Rashid
"Back in the spring of 2002 everything seemed possible. You could drive from Lahore, Pakistan's eastern city close to its border with India, across to Peshawar on the border with Afghanistan, and then on through the mountains and gorges to Kabul without any great concern for your own security. After years of neglect, Kabul itself was full of bustling aid workers, consultants, soldiers and journalists…"
"During the regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, it became the policy of the United States to help spread Sufi Islam in Pakistan. A Sufi council was formed and a few seminars and some musical concerts were held; a Sufi University is still being worked on. Meanwhile, Sufi shrines have been attacked all across Pakistan…"
"When Granta magazine brought out a special India edition to mark the nation's "Golden Jubilee" year in 1997, the collection appeared to have a genuine sense of celebration, of a nation fighting to free itself from the ghost of colonial rule. More than a decade later, Granta has turned its attention to India's beleaguered, bullet-riddled neighbour, Pakistan…"
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
"Reading Daniyal Mueenuddin’s mesmerizing first collection, “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders,” is like watching a game of blackjack, the shrewd players calculating their way beyond their dealt cards in an attempt to beat the dealer. Some bust, others surrender. But in Mueenuddin’s world, no one wins…"
"The riders advanced at a four-beat gait on an unpaved track that bisected swatches of hilly farmland. Flint jingled under their donkeys’ hoofs. The tiny mirrors sewn into the skullcaps of the men and the enormous homespun silk scarves of the women shimmered in the sun, reflecting fragments of their world: the cerulean fields of chicory, the emerald slopes of winter wheat, the quivering gold of Afghan road dust churned up by their procession and suspended between heaven and earth…"
In June 2002, Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman from the impoverished village of Meerwala, was gang raped by a local clan known as the Mastoi -- punishment for indiscretions allegedly committed by the woman's brother. While certainly not the first account of a female body being negotiated for honor in a family, this time the survivor had bravely chosen to fight back. In doing so, Mai single-handedly changed the feminist movement in Pakistan, one of the world's most adverse climates for women. By July 2002, the Pakistani government awarded her the equivalent of 8,500 U.S. dollars in compensation money and sentenced her attackers to death -- and Mukhtar Mai went on to open a school for girls so that future generations would not suffer, as she had, from illiteracy.
In this rousing account, Mai describes her experience and how she has since become an agent for change and a beacon of hope for oppressed women around the world. Timely and topical, "In the Name of Honor" is the remarkable and inspirational memoir of a woman who fought and triumphed against exceptional odds.
This authoritative study of Pakistan and its neighbours reveals bleak but undeniable truths about a region hanging in the balance.
Back in the spring of 2002 everything seemed possible. You could drive from Lahore, Pakistan's eastern city close to its border with India, across to Peshawar on the border with Afghanistan, and then on through the mountains and gorges to Kabul without any great concern for your own security. After years of neglect, Kabul itself was full of bustling aid workers, consultants, soldiers and journalists. The "international community" had arrived.
Now, of course, the border regions of Pakistan are unstable and violent, home to the remnants of al-Qaida and a series of other newer militant groups. Unable either to defeat a tenacious insurgency or to fashion a stable semi-democracy out of Afghanistan despite vast expenditure, the "international community" is now vacating Kabul almost as rapidly as it arrived.
Over the past 15 years Ahmed Rashid has established a well-earned reputation as a meticulous, reliable and authoritative chronicler of events in south-west and central Asia. This latest work is effectively an update of his lengthy and important Descent into Chaos (2008). Despite its title, it actually covers Afghanistan in as much detail as Pakistan. Rashid touchingly talks of his own occasional "exhilaration and hope" and says he is still "constantly looking for that open window and hoping that it will stay open long enough for peace to emerge". But Pakistan on the Brink is not a cheering read.
It is all here. In Afghanistan, Rashid revisits the early hubris of the west, the diversion of resources during the war in Iraq and in particular the strategic flip- flops of the Obama administration, the infighting between the Pentagon and other parts of the US government and the continued, increasingly frantic search for the silver bullet.
NATO, Rashid baldly states, has achieved none of its strategic aims. In Pakistan he takes us through the plunging relationship between the Pakistani security establishment and their American interlocutors, the violence in the "tribal agencies" of the frontier zone, the corruption of the political elite, the arrogance of the generals and the sufferings of the common man.
Many have covered this ground but few have the same access or depth of knowledge. Rashid mentions in passing having dinner with three presidents – Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari, Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama – and innumerable conversations with other key players. The detail doesn't always make for an easy read, and it would have been rewarding to have heard more about the characters he has viewed at such close quarters. The occasional brief reference – to Karzai ruminating on whether to abandon the flawed elections of 2010, for example – leaves the reader hungry for more.
Unlike many journalists, however, Rashid does have the courage to outline how he believes the catastrophic situation in both his homeland (Pakistan) and its neighbour can be improved. For Afghanistan, he sensibly talks of the importance of a regional solution which would give countries including Russia, China, India as well as the various central Asian "Stans" a genuine stake in the stabilisation of the shattered country. Pakistan, he says bluntly, "must act as a normal state, not a paranoid, [intelligence service]-driven entity whose operational norms are to use extremists and diplomatic blackmail". He suggests that Turkey might be
"an example of what success might look like in such a volatile region".
Many analysts have been looking at Turkey with interest in recent months, inspired by its successful mixture of economic growth, diplomatic sophistication and political stability in a time of rapid and radical change. Rashid describes Turkey as "a heavily Islamicised civilian power". This is interesting stuff. Pakistan is currently the opposite – heavily militarised with a weak civilian government. It also has an elite whose members are, crucially, considerably more secular, westernised and moderate than most of their countrymen. It is this elite that the US and western politicians like dealing with, in their own language, and when they have sought to support at every opportunity. But recent decades in Turkey have seen a fierce cultural and political battle between old secular elites based in the bureaucracy and military and a new elite, with its constituency of middle-class businessmen and small country towns. The latter have largely won the battle. The lesson is that no true stability will come to Pakistan (or to Afghanistan) while the elite there is not authentically representative of the culture of the country more generally. And that culture is increasingly pious and socially conservative, influenced heavily by the values and perceptions of populations in countries to Pakistan's west, rather than to its east. Rashid does not push his argument to this conclusion, but the depressing truth may be that the only stable Pakistan may be one that shares less with the west, not more.
Jason Burke is the south Asia correspondent of the Observer and the Guardian
During the regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, it became the policy of the United States to help spread Sufi Islam in Pakistan. A Sufi council was formed and a few seminars and some musical concerts were held; a Sufi University is still being worked on. Meanwhile, Sufi shrines have been attacked all across Pakistan. Many Pakistanis now believe Sufis to be the allies of American intelligence operatives, a belief only strengthened by the recent Raymond Davis affair, in which a Central Intelligence Agency contractor was detained in the killing of two Pakistanis.
The American strategy to target Islamist militants from the skies while helping to establish a tolerant version of Islam on the ground has turned into a bloody joke that nobody laughs at anymore. In his ambitious book, “Pakistan: A Hard Country,” Anatol Lieven has a sarcastic comment about the policy on Sufism: “In reality a more helpful strategy in the ‘war on terror’ might be to use the F.B.I. to support American Methodists against American Pentecostals.”
“A Hard Country” is described by its publisher as “a magisterial investigation.” The sheer scope of the book is proof of that. With patience and determination, Lieven observes and records all aspects of the curiosity otherwise known as Pakistan — and after more than 500 pages what we find out is that actually it’s not very different from many countries of the past. From climate to religion to ethnic tension, it has everything, only more of it.
Lieven worked as a foreign correspondent in Pakistan during the late 1980s for The Times of London. But unlike so many foreign correspondents who have churned out books from the files of their journalism, he has written a book that is much more than a collection of recycled dispatches interspersed with descriptions of lavish weddings and accounts of the obligatory visits to tribal areas.
Lieven is in no hurry to reach conclusions; he takes his time so that he can get into the complexities of provincial and caste relationships. He is a writer bent on documenting everything he encounters, pausing long enough to make sense of what he’s seeing and hearing and then always remembering to cross-reference other countries and other histories. And he generously quotes people who have tried to cover the same ground before.
Lieven lays bare the well-embedded power structures in the country, devoting separate chapters or sections to Pakistan’s provinces, its political parties and, most important, its army. He hangs out with Taliban sympathizers and generals, traces the role of religion and explains the concepts of kinship and honor at play in the country’s current travails. Although he’s a patient listener, he is not afraid of reaching his own conclusions. Shariah, he discovers, is not so much a strict set of rules as a system for how justice is delivered and who delivers it.
In Lieven’s opinion, the West doesn’t realize that the problem in Pakistan is not a lack of democracy, but too much of it, with many competing parties and interest groups. When some among Lieven’s elite hosts in Peshawar, referring to a rising Taliban leader, wonder who would possibly want to follow a former bus driver, Lieven replies: other bus drivers, of course.
Lieven has a sharp eye not only for class divisions, but also for the tribal and clan loyalties that underpin Pakistani society. Ethnic leaders, generals, industrialists all get a sympathetic hearing, if a skeptical one: Lieven says in his introduction that he has many liberal Pakistani friends but that he always takes their opinions “with several pinches of salt,” since those opinions may be devised to satisfy a Western journalist’s preconceived notions.
Even so, he occasionally comes across as too understanding of Pakistan’s elite. Sometimes he mistakes hospitality for honesty, politeness for efficiency and fluent English as a sign of sincerity. Pakistan’s nobility, if they can be bothered to read so sprawling a book, will no doubt be pleased at their portrayal.
By the same token, Lieven’s interactions with common Pakistanis tend to be filtered through the outlooks of his influential friends and journalistic contacts, and are infused with the kind of imagined dangers Pakistan’s elite feel from their less prosperous countrymen. Once, in Lahore, Lieven talks to people in the middle of a dozen anarchic cricket matches. They ask him aggressively about why America is doing what it’s doing. They also offer him a cold drink. At that moment Lieven pictures himself in the tribal areas, imagining that he has been decapitated and his head used as a ball. If you spend enough time with Pakistan’s military and civilian elite, you catch some of their paranoia, and start seeing yourself drowning in rivers of blood.
Fortunately, Lieven always seems to pull himself back. He is too committed a journalist to let any imagined fears overwhelm what is in the end a sweeping and insightful narrative.
Mohammed Hanif, a journalist based in Karachi, is the author of “A Case of Exploding Mangoes.”
When Granta magazine brought out a special India edition to mark the nation's "Golden Jubilee" year in 1997, the collection appeared to have a genuine sense of celebration, of a nation fighting to free itself from the ghost of colonial rule.
More than a decade later, Granta has turned its attention to India's beleaguered, bullet-riddled neighbour, Pakistan. What emerges is a land clouded in darkness, perhaps unsurprisingly, given that Pakistan is, 63-years after its birth, bent double with political strife, religious fundamentalism and rising militarism, when even its otherwise adored cricket team is mired in shame.
John Freeman, editor of the magazine, followed serendipitous, word-of-mouth leads and suggestions from the likes of the author, Patrick French to The Wire writer, Richard Price, to commission the 18 featured pieces. He gave the writers an open, unboundaried brief. What he received was some exquisitely-crafted pieces aboutdoomed love, teen romance, immigrant nostalgia. More often than not, however, the writing is framed within the unforgiving narratives of political repression, internecine savagery, and terror that overwhelm this collection.
The various works are a mix of memoir, poems, short stories, and reportage, from the likes of Fatima Bhutto, a scion of the Bhutto dynasty, to the eminent Urdu writer, Intizar Hussain. The "new" writers are, by and large, already leading lights who have established themselves in the firmament of international contemporary fiction such as Nadeem Aslam, Kamila Shamsie and Mohsin Hamid. While they may not be all that new, they offer fine, inventive fiction nonetheless.
Aslam's novella, "Leila in the Wilderness", one of the longest pieces in Granta's commissioning history which took the award-winning writer 15-years of rumination and rough drafts, is among the strongest offerings. Aslam manipulates the old subcontinental legend of star-crossed lovers, Leila and Qes, to dramatise the age-old prejudices towards the birth of girl babies that survive to this day in Pakistan. The result is spectacular, reminiscient of Angela Carter's feminist fairytales in The Bloody Chamber in its imaginative revisionism. He even employs magic realism to marry ancient legend with the post 9/11 politics of the here and now.
If Granta's India edition brought to light the brilliant young writer, Arundhati Roy, who won the Booker prize later that year, this collection's equivalent gem of a find is the older but nonetheless astonishing talent of the hitherto unpublished 79-year-old civil servant, Jamal Ahmad, whose collection of short stories has now been bought by Hamish Hamilton.
"The Sins of the Mother" is a stunning story of illicit love caught in the doomladen matrix of tribal honour and retribution. Any didacticism in the message behind the story - that honour killings are no less horrifying for being accepted custom in rural Pakistan - is cancelled out by the magnificence of Ahmad's storytelling.
Portraits are drawn of the key despots, military dictators and patriots: Zia-ul- Huq is depicted through his hypocritical, cowering acolytes; Basharat Peer offers a stark picture of wartorn Kashmir with its boy soldiers who use as their role models the fearless stone throwers and martyrs of Palestine ("Palestinian stone- throwers became their inspiration. The nucleus of the intifada is the vast square and maze of lanes around Srinagar's grand mosque…" ). The Gemini-nature of the country's founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, is shown in the way in which his image is packaged and repackaged by subsequent leaders, from those portraits that capture him as a dandified, Western-educated secularist to high- collared photographs that suggest he is a devout friend of the clerics.
Declan Walsh's reportage on Pashtun machismo in the North West Frontier, delivered so poetically, and Lorraine Adams and Ayesha Nasir investigations into the prosecution cases behind the 'war on terror' are as dazzling and dramatic as fiction.
Granta's Pakistan is a bleak but mersmerising one that rages with astounding horrors. Yet this "immense homeland of heartbreaking beauty" is not without love, romance, nor hope.
Reading Daniyal Mueenuddin’s mesmerizing first collection, “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders,” is like watching a game of blackjack, the shrewd players calculating their way beyond their dealt cards in an attempt to beat the dealer. Some bust, others surrender. But in Mueenuddin’s world, no one wins.
Set in the Pakistani district of Punjab, the eight linked stories in this excellent book follow the lives of the rich and powerful Harouni family and its employees: managers, drivers, gardeners, cooks, servants.
The patriarch, K. K. Harouni, of the feudal landowning class, owns a farm in Dunyapur and a mansion in Lahore. In the title story, we meet him in the final years of his life, living mostly in Lahore, apart from his estranged wife, having surrendered the management of his farm to the corrupt Chaudrey Jaglani. When Husna, a distant relative whose branch of the family “had not so much fallen into poverty as failed to rise,” shows up at his door, Harouni takes her in, first as a servant, then as his mistress. For the aging paterfamilias, Husna is a distraction whose unrefined speech and manners offer a temporary escape from the infinite politesse of his own class. For her part, Husna, a more hard-boiled Madame Bovary, envious of the glittering, jet-setting lives of the rich, ingratiates herself to the old man through calculated flirtations, believing sex is her ticket out of her lowly status. And for a while she is right. Until she no longer is.
The women in these stories often use sex to prey on the men, and they do so with abandon at best and rage at worst — in this patriarchal, hierarchical society, it is their sharpest weapon. Women in the lower classes sleep their way up only to be kicked back down, while those in the upper classes use their feminine influence to maneuver their husbands into ever-growing circles of power, until age corrodes their authority.
In the only story in which the main characters are of similar social status, Lily, a girl from a reputable Punjabi family who has spent her youth attending stylish parties and having casual sex, hopes to improve herself morally by marrying a kind, hard-working man of her own class. Like all other attempts at betterment in Mueenuddin’s world, this too fails, as Lily slowly reverts to her old ways. Motion in Pakistani society — be it social or moral — can only be horizontal.
But the women are not alone in their scheming. Manipulation unifies these stories, running through them as consistently as the Indus River flows south of Punjab. A dance of insincere compliments and favors asked at just the right moment — when the supplicant detects a benevolent mood — is performed by everyone. This bewildering pas de deux is familiar to all but the two American characters, whose ignorance causes grief to themselves and others.
Corruption too is ubiquitous here. Nawabdin the electrician cheats the electric company; Chaudrey Jaglani sells Harouni’s vast lands at half price, keeping the best parcels for himself. For a country whose name means “land of purity,” Pakistan is startlingly blemished. Yet Mueenuddin’s talent lets us perceive not just its machinations but also its beauty — the mango orchards, a charpoy laid out in the shade of a mammoth banyan tree, the smoke of a hookah on a spring afternoon, “eucalyptus trees planted by some briefly energetic government.”
In this labyrinth of power games and exploits, Mueenuddin inserts luminous glimmers of longing, loss and, most movingly, unfettered love. But these emotions are often engulfed by the incessant chaos of this complicated country. As Lily tells her eventual husband in a rare moment of quietude: “You know what’s amazing, we’re actually alone here. That never happens in Pakistan.”
Dalia Sofer is the author of the novel “The Septembers of Shiraz.”
The riders advanced at a four-beat gait on an unpaved track that bisected swatches of hilly farmland. Flint jingled under their donkeys’ hoofs. The tiny
mirrors sewn into the skullcaps of the men and the enormous homespun silk scarves of the women shimmered in the sun, reflecting fragments of their world: the cerulean fields of chicory, the emerald slopes of winter wheat, the quivering gold of Afghan road dust churned up by their procession and suspended between heaven and earth. Slightly to the riders’ side, their sheep ambled along a narrow rim of shade where rowan trees drooped with the saccharine blossoms the women believed to be an aphrodisiac.
The dazzling caravan drew closer and I raised my notebook and pen in the universal plea for journalistic alms. The riders, both women and men, raised their hands in greeting. They did not slow down. They were Kuchi tribespeople: nomads who wander with the seasons between the vertiginous mountains of Afghanistan and the lowland pastures of Pakistan in a stately minuet of annual migration. They were not about to break their pace for me. They were not about to break their pace for anyone. They had been riding at this pace through this land, year after year, for centuries.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about The Wandering Falcon, Jamil Ahmad’s marvel of a novel about the people who live along the border that divides Afghanistan and Pakistan, is its author’s ability to maintain that pace. Ahmad unscrolls the unending sands and unyielding mountains of the herders’ seasonal passage in a language as unhurried and precise as the sparse and iambic landscape they traverse. Here is a band of Baluch rebels steering their camels toward a water hole:
Patiently, they had skirted stretches of oily, ocher-colored quicksand and had bravely pushed their animals through the bruising patches of camel-thorn bushes and burning salt flats.
Ahmad burdens his prose with no unnecessary curlicues. Like a Kuchi tribesman, he brings along on his literary hejira only what is absolutely essential. But in his stripped-down prose lies a beauty that is almost sublime, akin to the beauty his nomads find in the land that nourishes and bedevils them, offering them a thousand shades of gray and brown, with which it tinted its hills, its sands, and its earth. There were subtle changes of color in the blackness of the nights and the brightness of the days, and the vigorous colors of the tiny desert flowers hidden in the dusty bushes, and of the gliding snakes and scurrying lizards as they buried themselves in the sand.
Ahmad, who is eighty years old and lives in Islamabad, may be an outsider, but he is not a newcomer: he spent decades working as a civil servant on development in western Pakistan and at his country’s embassy in Kabul. Exoticizing his characters—the washed-up former mountain guide who sells his daughter into marriage for a pound of opium; the deranged double-crossing mullah; the man who kills his beloved to protect her from her husband’s wrath— would have been easy, but it would have been a cheap trick. Instead Ahmad lifts the veil from their little-known culture delicately, respectfully, allowing us a look without violating their privacy. We learn of women who insist on taking their chicken on months-long desert treks and shame their husbands into battle; of men who sell women into prostitution and cheat their way out of revenge killings by wearing children’s clothes—for the Pashtun honor code, Pushtunwali, prohibits visiting revenge on children (this, too, we learn from the novel). Ahmad does not romanticize the tribespeople, nor does he condemn them. One gets a sense that he truly loves them, accepting them in their entirety, with their strengths and their flaws. A migrating herdsman accepts both an unexpectedly lush pasture and a relentless sandstorm this way.
Nostalgia, writes Svetlana Boym in her fine study of the subject, “is a yearning for a different time—the time of our childhood, the slower rhythm of our dreams.” The Wandering Falcon, then, is an indelibly nostalgic novel: it honors the slower rhythm of a threatened lifestyle. In Ahmad’s novel and in real life, the traditional paths of tribespeople increasingly collide with a formidable enemy: modernity. Both the nomads’ cyclical pilgrimage and the ancient honor- code-based order of the settled tribes are at risk in a land where more and more often high-tech warfare, checkpoints, paved roads, and borders dictate the dispensation of their justice and the course of their journeys—in sum, where the accoutrements of what we call progress interfere.
Their migration routes and system of government were first disrupted by the British demarcation, in 1948, of the 1,600-mile border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which divided the tribes, and destabilized further in the 1980s, when the United States and Saudi Arabia poured approximately $1 billion a year in weapons and training of anti-Soviet mujaheddin in the tribal areas. In the ’90s, Pakistan used the region to train, fund, and dispatch militants to fight Indian forces over the control of Kashmir. Today the Taliban use it as a training base and safe haven and American drones drop bombs on it.
The World Food Program estimates that nearly half of the nomads who summered in Afghanistan in the ’70s gave up their lifestyle before the American-led invasion a decade ago. The last ten years have not been kind to the Kuchi, either. In over a decade of reportage from Afghanistan I have seen more Kuchi families huddling under grimy, UNHCR-issued tarps than resting under hand-woven woolen tents or herding their animals through pastures. For decades now, nomadism in Afghanistan and Pakistan has “constituted defiance to certain concepts, which the world was beginning to associate with civilization itself. Concepts such as statehood, citizenship, undivided loyalty to one state, settled life as opposed to nomadic life, and the writ of the state as opposed to tribal discipline,” writes Ahmad. “The pressures,” he goes on, “were inexorable. One set of values, one way of life, had to die. In this clash, the state, as always, proved stronger than the individual. The new way of life triumphed over the old.”
The Wandering Falcon does not denounce modern (and largely Western) ideas of time and progress in the merciless way of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It mourns them. In the chapter dedicated almost entirely to the devastation
wrought upon the herders by the newly enforced border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, soldiers at a Pakistani checkpoint fire upon a large band of nomads who defy the order to turn back. Ahmad paints the massacre in few wide, airy brush strokes:
The firing was indiscriminate. Men, women, and children died. Gul Jana’s belief that the Koran would prevent tragedy died, too. Dawa Khan fell dead in the raking fire.
There is no gratuitous violence in this scene of carnage. There is deep melancholy.
The Wandering Falcon is a glimpse into the volatile tribal belt that today potentially holds the key to ending, or prolonging indefinitely, America’s longest war. Shamefully, it is a region the majority of Western readers knows about either as “Pakistan’s tribal badlands,” a common journalistic shorthand, or through the racist brush-offs of earlier invaders. Winston Churchill called its inhabitants “a numerous population in a state of warlike leisure,” not to mention “savages of the Stone Age.” The journalist David Rohde, whose account of his seven months in Taliban captivity in western Pakistan in 2008 and 2009 may be the most insightful look to date at the way fundamentalist insurgents there operate, describes it as “a backwater roughly the size of Massachusetts . . . dominated by Pashtun tribes known for their independence, criminality, and fighting skills.” To many a Western eye, the people who inhabit this region are almost cartoonish, two-dimensional stick figures. Ahmad’s exquisite book breathes life into them.
Yet The Wandering Falcon is a book that almost wasn’t. Ahmad wrote it in the early ’70s; it is his only work of fiction. For years, the manuscript sat in his drawer. Publishers he approached in London were not interested; maybe they found the subject too obscure. In 2008, Ahmad submitted one of the chapters to a short story competition in Pakistan; the organizer showed it to an editor at Penguin Books. The publishing house bought it the following year. Perhaps, like the well-worn routes of its nomads, the book set its own pace, a pace that defied the accelerated clip of modern publishing. It passed the test of time beautifully. As W.S. Merwin has written,
it is the late poems
that are made of words
that have come the whole way
they have been there
Anna Badkhen is the author of Peace Meals: Candy-Wrapped Kalashnikovs and Other War Stories and Waiting for the Taliban, now available in paperback. She is writing a book about timelessness.