I am a woman not an object. You do not have any right to treat me like I don’t matter, because I do. I matter, and I have every right to act and live like I matter.Ezioma Kalu.
For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, Zeba is arrested and jailed.
This is a mind blowing book that centers on the difficult lives of the Afghan women.
Zeba, a great and loving mother, meets her husband Kamal, dead, head broken with a hatchet, and bleeding copiously in the backyard one day. And that gruesome event leads to the development of the plot.
All fingers point at her as the murderer, as even his late husband’s cousin tries to strangle her with his bare hands, but for the timely rescue of neighbors and the Hakimi, who instantly arrests and takes her to jail.
Children always forgive their mothers. That’s the way God’s designed them. He gives them two arms, two legs, and a heart that will cry ‘mother’ until the day it stops.Nadia Hashimi, A house without windows.
In Chil Mahtab, a jail for Afghan women, Zeba finds it hard to strike a balance between grief and reality, as she comfortably plunges herself in the former and refuses to let go. She refuses to speak, not a word to her cell mates, not a word to her young, enthusiastic lawyer, Yusuf.
This book exposes the injustice against Afghan women, and how women were blamed for every wrongdoing. If a women is found beside her dead husband, then she must have been the murderer, no questions asked.
There’s a special kind of hurt in learning that your parents are not the angels or saviors you wish them to be.Nadia Hashimi, A house without windows.
If a woman is a rape victim, then her worth is reduced and could be married off to anyone who cares or sold off for cheap labour even. If a woman is seen having dinner, then she’s automatically sexually impure and have committed Zina, therefore must be thrown in jail to await the judge’s verdict.
In Chil Mahtab, Zeba listens to the many unfortunate stories of other Afghan women, most of whom are jailed for committing Zina, sexual related crimes and bringing shame to their families.
In Afghanistan, a young woman is jailed for simply having dinner with a man, for having an affair with a man, or for even been suspected of sleeping with a man. In the book, Afghan women are subjected to all forms of physical and mental torture. A doctor would be invited to check the virginity status of a girl, and she could be killed if it comes out negative.
Slowly, Zeba starts to loosen up while in jail, but refuses to tell her own story. While Yusuf takes it upon himself to uncover the mystery behind Kamal’s death, the plot reveals Kamal’s dark sides. He was a woman beater, who mercilessly hit Zeba for most of the time they were married. He inflicted so many physical and mental injury on Zeba, and of course nothing could be done about it, he was a man.
So often reason did not seem to work with people, which was precisely why she’d spent a lifetime getting her point across by other means.Nadia Hashimi, A house without windows.
The book also reveals a strong, independent woman and Zeba’s mother, Gulnaz, who is in charge of her own life. Being a sorceress, she commands respect from all and sundry, coupled with her bizarre green eyes. She represents a little bit of the female population in Afghanistan, who take their destinies in their hands, and refuse to stomach any form of mistreatment and injustice.
While the plot progresses, Zeba misses her four children, who are forcefully taken away from her and sent to their father’s relatives, while she languishes in jail.
She becomes popular when she helps Mezghan, her jail mate who begs her for a charm that’d make her lover’s family look graciously upon her and allow the young lovers tie the knot. Zeba, having learned some of her mother’s magic, helps her, and the efficacy of Zeba’s magic makes her famous in jail, as every woman comes with her own problem and asks for solution.
A House Without Windows is a revolutionary story. One which tells a story of the helpless and vulnerable women whose rights are constantly trampled upon. It tells a tale of gender discrimination and violence, and it appeals on the readers to have a mindset of change.
Time passes differently through a woman’s body. We are haunted by all the hours of yesterday and teased by a few moments of tomorrow. That is how we live—torn between what has already happened and what is yet to come.Nadia Hashimi, A house without windows.
These women seek emancipation, and there’s no better way to feel the sorrows and troubles of the Afghan women other than reading about them in books like this.
Hashimi tells this heart wrenching story of women, who are not allowed to express their sexual feelings as they like. Who are jailed simply because they choose to love. Who are discriminated upon, because they are perceived to have committed a crime which they might not have even committed, or committed simply because enough became long overdue and their patience snapped. The book is a 4.5/5 for me.
Have you read the book? What do you feel about it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on all social media platforms and share with your friends.
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