The aspiring journalist wakes up one morning to find that her home has become her prison. Her medico mother can’t practice anymore, her sister, an airhostess, can’t fly and she can’t study anymore. Freedom and basic rights like education and even medical care are denied by the Taliban.
Latifa takes you behind the veil which she is now forced to wear and reveals the horror of sheer survival, not just for women but even her businessman father and her brothers who leave the country for fear that they may be enrolled as Talibs. A touching, often depressing and annoying account, it portrays the naive Latifa’s loss of innocence and her brave struggle.
The 16-year-old who first succumbs to depression and sees her mother withdraw into a shell slowly emerges to set up a clandestine school within her home where even the windows have been painted black for fear that the Taliban might beat them for watching videos on the sly. Worse, one of the Talibs may have just fancied her—as the book says they did other teenaged girls—and kidnapped and raped her. Both Latifa and her mother find solace in the young students who steal into their home, never coming at the same time everyday.
A gripping story, even though the translation sometimes mars the pace and the passion. Finally, Latifa escapes to Paris with the help of an Afghan resistance group.
The book which emerged through this journey is not just a personal account but will empower other women who still live in dread despite the fall of the Taliban.