The Breeze In My Hair On A Motorcycle
by Muska Ehsan (Afghanistan)
Audio: "The Breeze In My Hair On A Motorcycle," read by Muska Ehsan
Growing up in Kandahar, Afghanistan I didn’t know how to differentiate my identity as a human being from my gender. My gender always defined me. My wants and needs were limited by my gender.
Back in 2017 when I was 13 years old, my father bought a black Honda scooter for my brother. He would take me on rides, and after the long rides on the scooter with him, I’d always crave to experience his joy and happiness being the front rider, which for a long time remained a wish because of societal and cultural restrictions. Sometimes he would take me to faraway lands where no one would see us and teach me how to ride.
I was done keeping up with society’s set boundaries and expectations, which for 99% of Afghan girls is to sit quietly and let others be the controllers of their lives. So, I started to dress like a boy to be able to ride in public. For safety, I would ride at night with my brother, him being in the back seat. Every twist of the wrist (gear) released a joy I couldn’t compare to anything in the world. The sweet breeze in my hair felt liberating. For once, I befriended the night's darkness and calm, realizing even the dark carries a light. It granted me the freedom to forget that I am a girl. I was a human being just experiencing life.
Eventually, I found the courage to take the risk of riding during the day. One day when I was crossing a street on the scooter, a little boy who seemed to be around 5 years old threw a stone at me. The throbbing pain on my right leg from the stone felt nothing compared to the pain of digesting the thought, “Even a little boy knows what society expects from a woman!” I was in shock.
There was a lot to be done. So I decided to use the best weapon, education, to find my voice and fight along with millions of my other Afghan sisters to break these biased societal barriers that limited our civil rights. Every day, I would wake up with the hope of not only changing my society into a peaceful environment where men and women can work side by side and practice their civil rights towards the development of my beloved country but also proving to the world that we Afghan women are much more than depressing pictures on Google.
August 2021, in the morning my phone was buzzing with messages and calls. Before checking my phone, suddenly my mom marched into my room, and my body went numb. I had an inside voice telling me the Taliban had taken over the country. Straight away she shouted, “HIDE YOUR GUITAR, HIDE YOUR PAINTINGS! They have come.” I was living the dark history of 1996, even only reading about it in history books would ache my heart. The journey of leaving my homeland holding only two pieces of souvenirs from my friends and a pair of clothing was a chapter of trauma.
I was utterly broken when I found out the Taliban banned girls from going to school. It was unacceptable, indigestible and inexcusable. With time it even hurt deeper that the world went quiet about it. Afghan women who worked hard dreamed, hoped, and struggled are afraid to defend their basic human rights.
After leaving my country I couldn’t bear the sorrowful voices of my friends on the phone asking me repetitively “Do I have a future anymore?” Therefore, I started an online platform to connect Afghan students with youth worldwide to continue their school studies and spread awareness, sharing a motto of “We are all in this together!” Gladly, today there are 25 high school students in Afghanistan being tutored by amazing individuals around the world through my program and the community tends to grow.
I know why they are stopping us. Nobody can fool us anymore. If you are preventing me from getting an education it means you are scared of me, you are scared of my power — the power of an educated woman.
I didn’t stop and I will not stop. You didn’t win yet.
Thomas, Tess, ‘One year of the Taliban’s ban on girls’ ducation.’ Assemble: A Malala Fund Publicat, 14 Sept. 2022, https://assembly.malala.org/stories/one-year-of-the-talibans-ban-on-girls-education.
Muska Ehsan, age 18, is a girls' education activist from Afghanistan and founder of YouthForYouth Community. She is a curious and adventurous explorer and surrounds herself with historical fiction novels. Muska loves to discuss stoicism with her friends and learn about different religions.
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11/24/23, 4:42 PM
I'm amazed by your deep perception towards little things of life! Keep glowing dear Taieba.
10/4/23, 10:28 AM
I'll like to see more of your writing
10/4/23, 10:26 AM
Gsk I love it!
10/3/23, 7:58 PM
9/29/23, 2:03 AM
9/29/23, 2:03 AM
Wow..just wow. Ridiculous words I know. I just stumbled across your poem as this is my first time on the website and I landed this masterpiece. As an immigrant myself, I could relate to several aspects of this. Your use of imagery, symbolism, and allusion is outstanding
9/17/23, 8:43 AM
Powerful. Spreading the truth some don't think about, some don't have to worry about. A great and strong piece.
9/16/23, 2:41 AM
9/16/23, 2:41 AM
9/16/23, 2:41 AM
8/25/23, 10:35 PM
Excellent and amazing
8/17/23, 7:00 AM
Absolutely beautiful poem! The words were picked meaningfully and used it a descriptive way. Very relatable.