Book Review| Dear Zari by Zarghuna Kargar

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Book Review| Dear Zari by Zarghuna Kargar


Imagine waking up at dawn, eating a small crust of dry bread and tea then sitting down for hours on a small stool to weave a mat. Clients continually place orders. They choose complex designs and colours because if that’s what they want, you will do it, regardless of the wool dust that irritates your nose. This book gives Samira, a young Afghani woman, pages she can call her own, pages through which she can tell her story, her carpet-weaving story.

Zarghuna Kargar, the author of the book narrates twelve emotional stories – including Samira’s – of women living in Afghanistan. This women share aspects of their lives that are sometimes filled with despair then morph to exude glimmers of hope. She sets the consuming pace of the story by vividly conjuring sights, scenes and smells of Afghanistan in the 1980s. This was around the time the country enjoyed close ties with the Soviet Union and occasionally Russia helped them out with aid and military assistance.

” The fledgling democracy thrived on people’s hopes and dreams for a prosperous nation. This meant the basic needs were easily met by most if not all. Zari’s father worked in government which saw her afford more luxury than the average person. This is not to mean that all was rosy.”

From the onset there is a clear separation of men’s and women’s rights, something that becomes more evident as the stories progress. This inequality and unfairness is more pronounced when the war breaks out. A faction of religious extremists led by Ayatollah Khomeini want a pious society to govern. The once prestigious people in government are seen as spies and Zari’s father is constantly sought out by people wanting to kill him. He eventually moves to Pakistan and after a while his family joins him there. In 2001 they manage to secure asylum in the United Kingdom, a feat most of the twelve women do not achieve.

Later on the author returns to Afghanistan to present a radio programme called the BBC Women’s Hour which proves to be a success. These voices cannot be suppressed; so many women record their stories and send them to be aired on radio. Wazma, the injured wife. Layla, the war widow. Nasreen, the boy next door and many more. The heart-warming story of Mahgul the kite maker will make you acutely aware to problems brought about by bad governance and the impact it has on families and children


The stories are written in a clear concise manner. The sentences are clear and descriptive and they move the story along. The compilation of stories gives the impression of having a glimpse at a series of lives all at once. The narration is real and the experiences raw, making you empathise with the women.


As is non-fiction stories, the stories drifted with mundane day to day humdrum instead of getting to the best parts.



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