Nomad Online

Strong women

It takes courage to do something different. To step outside what your family or your community expect of you.

Tonight I saw a play about a woman who is defying her community to carve out a safe space for Afghan women.

Her name is Maryam and for about an hour I sat there, in a little theatre space in Blacktown, watching her story unfold.

She came from Afghanistan twenty years ago when her home was reduced to rubble in the war.

“Mum!” her daughter said recently. “You bought a car! You are not a refugee anymore.”

Her character in the play highlights she is in limbo. It feels like a sin to forget her life back in Kabul, but it hurts too much to keep living in the past.

She wanted to create a safe space here in Australia, in Sydney’s western suburbs, for women in her community. A place to meet, listen to music and dance their cares away.

It wasn’t easy.

Maryam was called a foreigner because no good Afghan woman would dare do this. She was met with suspicion by some members of her community. Some even threatened her life.

It just made her more determined.

Woven through her story are the stories of other women. Of one who had never left the family home for the past eleven years because of her protective husband. Of another who covers bruises under her scarf and long sleeves. And another who desperately wants her daughter to grab hold of the privileges that come from living in Australia.

They were strong women who had endured much and were now making a life for themselves and their children in this country.

Maryam wrote the play and wanted to cast an Afghan actors in it. It proved to be impossible. She ended up playing her role instead. I was thankful for it.

It was her story. Told in her words. Spoken so eloquently by her.

I was glad I managed to drag my son to it. Happy to get there early for the delicious Afghan sweets and tea. And thrilled that my usually fussy son plucked up the courage to try some and enjoy them.

He even liked the play.

Featured image by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

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September 2019
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