Words by Nadia
“Art is sin, a waste of time, God will punish you for drawing and creating artwork”
I was holding my head low in front of a group of teachers in the Islamic Sharia Law faculty. They always invited students from the Fine Arts faculty to guide them to their so-called “Path of righteousness”.
They told me this to stop me from drawing women without their scarves on the street and on the internet, to teach me modesty and how to be a submissive typical Afghan woman.
I had no one supporting me but my small family, my father who was suffering from cancer, my little sister who worked two jobs and my mother.
I was also teaching at a school to help my sister with bills and also lessen the burden of my university expenses on her.
I chose Arts because it was such taboo in our little society, I always wanted to do things others could only talk about. As a child I was very creative, my father who was a soldier, couldn’t afford to buy colored pens or pencils, and so I used coal and burned woods to draw shapes and objects on the cement in our yard and then wipe it off so no one would see it.
I knew the colours danced in my hands, I knew I just needed the proper material to let the words out.
My father passed away and with the grief I said goodbye to my art as well. Becoming a professional in a money-making field to help my family was all I had in mind. My sister still read stories about Vincent Van Gogh and his life to me. The misery he went through not only made him one of the best artists in the world but he also had a great personality. He inspired me not to let the ups and downs of life decide my faith. Instead, with my sister’s encouragement, I used the struggles in my life as inspiration and motivation to create more art.
The Taliban’s invasion of my country resulted in tremendous changes in my life. I saw my artwork being wiped away from beauty salons and streets in Kabul. I saw how I was no longer allowed to go to art cafes because they are packed with Taliban and how our faculty’s personnel fled the country.
Now, after almost one year, I am still unemployed and wherever I go, the doors are closed in my face. I see the death of music, the invisibility of creativity and the most silent era for women.
In my country, if you are a woman you are not allowed to live at all, you are not allowed to:
1: Have any kind of education
2: Work or be a source of income to your family.
3: Create artwork.
4: Wear any colors except Black.
5: Be seen talking with men in general (spouse included).
6: Go outside without the company of a man.
What else is left? They have even suggested that women are incapable of doing anything as good as men under Islam.
These interpretations of Islam are completely wrong, they do this to ruin the morale of women.
They are failing though… thousands and thousands of women are demonstrating in the street against these monsters and spit in their faces. I talked to one of them, she said, “I was so angry I spat at the talib who held a gun to my head, so what he did, he kicked me and sprayed tear gas in my mouth and face to silence me and take his revenge”. “Even that didn’t stop me , I continued my walk and demonstration regardless…”
This is the type of woman that would make history, I am trying to be one of them and I am trying to raise one of them.