Contemporary Women

A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez

By Deborah Rodriguez

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One stroke and then another, until it was smooth and silky, like the pajamas she slept in. They were different from the ones she wore at home, which she had made for herself. The stitching was too regular, too perfect to have been made by a young woman’s hand. Obviously, they were made by machine, like everything in Kabul. When Sunny had presented the room to her, she had been particularly proud of the full-length mirror that was framed in a shiny dark wood and sat on its own four legs. But Yazmina thought of it as vanity and had turned it away once Sunny had departed.

Though her skin was brown and wrinkled like the walnuts in the marketplace, her short hair made her feel young and powerful. She mussed it up, enjoying its boyishness. She had given herself the drastic haircut one year before, when rumors drifted through Kabul that the Taliban were back, hiding in the hillsides of the Helmand province in the south. In a private act of defiance, her own personal statement of freedom—for she knew what would happen if the Taliban again gained control of her beloved people—she’d borrowed Sunny’s scissors and cut off her braids, which were, at the time, long enough to reach her waist.

Now come,” he commanded Yazmina. Her uncle stood, and as he looked from the man to Yazmina, his strong jaw worked hard to keep his mouth closed against the curses he was struggling not to utter. He brushed the dust from his knees and escorted her to the car. He told her not to worry, but his face revealed what Yazmina already knew in her heart. She would be driven from her home in Nuristan, southwest on rubble-lined, pockmarked roads, to Kabul, and sold to the highest bidder, to be his third, perhaps even fourth wife, or worse, a slave, or worse yet—she would be forced to be a prostitute.

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