Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Bed of Red Flowers

I just finished this eye-opening book by Nelofir Pazira, an autobiography of her life growing up in Soviet occupied, and then civil war embroiled, Afghanistan.  She is the star of the movie Kandahar, a movie based on her actual return to Afghanistan to find her friend, Dyana.

When I finished the book, an image from an old National Geographic Magazine cover came to mind - one that had always haunted me with its beauty:

Photo by Steve McCurry
I typed 'afghan girl national geographic' into Google and found the photo in an article about the photographer and his search for the subject of this image years afterwards.  He did find her.  Her name is Sharbat Gula and her story is very similar to Ms. Pazira's, as she was also a teenager during this turbulent period of Afghanistan's history.  However, Ms. Gula remained in Afghanistan while Ms. Pazira and her family were able to emigrate to New Brunswick, Canada.

A Bed of Red Flowers is a brutally honest representation of one Afghan girl's experiences and her thoughts on politics, religion, and the plight of a desperate country.  It should be recommended reading in all high schools, if only to instil an appreciation of the freedoms and peace that we take for granted here in Canada and the United States.  I admire Ms. Pazira tremendously for her courage, and commitment to bringing the reality of the Afghan people - their struggles, hopes and dreams, and perseverance amid desperate and violent circumstances - to light.



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