Dear Khaled Hosseini,
All my life I have dealt with one simple yet confining and limiting fact: the fact that I am a woman. The fact that anywhere my presence grasps, I will be treated, seen, and thought of differently. Khaled, being a woman is not easy, but not many seem to understand that. Fortunately, you did, you understood perfectly and I thank you for that.
I realized what it was to be a woman, the rigorous position I was born into, the day I read your book. I remember perfectly the vociferous words you engraved in my thoughts, “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman,” and sadly it is true. I saw it.
It began at home.
Then at school.
Then at church.
Then everywhere else.
Prejudice had found some victims.
It began at home, my mother and I had very different roles compared to my father and brothers, yet my mother worked as much as my dad, and I assisted school exactly like my brothers. But in the end, it was up to my mother and I to clean, to cook, to wash, to sweep while I observed my brothers’ play happily outside, and my father watch television. Khaled your words kept resounding on my mind, and I began to question why my mother and I had to do the chores. Why were our roles so distinct to… to men? Then I thought that maybe my body was an influence of my role, that it was my anatomy that demanded a lower and submissive role in society. And I kept thinking. I encountered prejudice for the first time.
Prejudice kept following, like a confining shadow dimming my light. In school, I encountered once again with the power of my body, but different thoughts aroused from the ideas I was presented at school. The school taught me that my body was distracting, tempting, and weak. One of those ideas was the dress code around schools prohibiting females from wearing certain clothing because it can be distracting and improper. Is my body and appearance really that powerful over my brain or my persona? Khaled the way women have to cover themselves in order to remain invisible is miserable, you have seen and so have I. It’s so degrading, and wretched. Worst of all I came once with same anatomy versus same anatomy, women bringing each other down. I remembered once at school, when I played tennis, specifically mixed doubles, I was a victim of prejudice. Mixed doubles is played by a female and a male, and something I remember clearly coming out of my partner’s mouth: “the girl is our target.” The “girl” was destined to miss and lose all the points, why? Because she is weak. The target was a female just like me, prejudice played a dirty game, target the girl and bring her down when I should be bringing her up with me. Both she and I fell victims to our own anatomy. Prejudice laughed so hysterically in my face that day, so I cried almost in outwit.
Prejudice liked seeing I struggled with my own body, with me being submissive to it, it laughed at me like the crazy patients in movies, and it sounded miserable. All the prejudice continued, in a place I never expected to find it: at church. A sermon that I had heard once compelled women to bow down to men, to be weak for them, to be their servant and to please them. It was as if society told me that my purpose in life was to serve men. The church taught me that women are to settle under the men. And it is so clear. It can be observed in the job, in the fields of science, math, and medicine, everywhere! Khaled is it my body? Am I weak for being a girl, am I not good enough, not smart enough, and not strong enough? Men and women are different, I understand, but why is my body more powerful over me than a man’s body is to him?
As I grew, I saw it more, the unfairness, and the lack of justice, not only in my house, the church or the school but rather the world. Women are paid less, women are disrespected, criticized, women are the blame, women are raped, women are abused, and why? Khaled I don’t understand how human kind can be so cruel and degrading, both men and women. Is my body all that counts?
Every woman falls under the dirty game of prejudice, Khaled you wrote it, you wrote about the abusiveness, the hate, the weakness, the hardships but you also wrote about the strength, the kindness, the intelligence, the beauty of a woman something prejudice hates and I thank you for it. Your work has inspired me to aspire higher than any men or women can, to not judge based on the anatomy, or image but rather be open to any mind, persona or identity. You wrote about the side prejudice tries to avoid and ignore, the side I encountered with and in which I found my voice, my strength and my heart just like your characters did. The side where mind shines over the shadow of prejudice.
My voice came out of its cage, I began to speak up and things changed. The roles in my house have become more even, both my father and my brothers help my mother and I with everyday chores. The church members in my town are more accepting toward the idea of having a strong woman. When I played tennis I stopped the girl but rather target the weakness of both players. Progress is digging the grave for prejudice, and today women are fighting for equal wages, women are taking a stand in education, even media has changed too. Books, comics, and magazines are empowering women and that is not the end. I’m not saying that men and women are equal, because we’re not. I’m just looking for justice here not equality. I’m looking for fairness in the world, I’m looking mostly for freedom in the land of the free.
Prejudice finds doers and victims, to those who have not fallen under the ideas of sexism, I thank you. It is degrading to be treated differently because of my anatomy, it is miserable that women fall victims to their own body because society allows it. Khaled thank you for showing me I have a voice, for showing me that I can dream and I can reach. I dedicate my dreams to stop prejudice to you, Khaled Hosseini. Because this fight is not over, in the contrary, it’s only beginning.