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There I received an education — an expensive, almost deadly one — but a valuable one, too.
I understand firsthand how deep-seated the hatred of women is in that culture.
I board a bus and notice that all the other women are at the back of the bus wearing burqas. I want to go home.” Abdul-Kareem is fed up with my unhappiness. “Had I known something like this could ever happen, had I known that we would have to live with his mother and brothers, I would never have come here.” I attempt a second escape to the American embassy. Without a US passport, I no longer have any rights as an American.
I try twice more to escape — one with a return to the American embassy and another with the help of a friendly German expat.
Later I write in my diary: “I have no freedom at all. The next day she barges into my room with a servant and confiscates my precious hoard of canned goods.
Phyllis Chesler, 72, is a feminist scholar and a professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at City University of New York.
In her 14th book, “An American Bride in Kabul” (Palgrave Macmillan) out early next month, she shares for the first time the story of the five months she spent, as a young bride, held prisoner in a Afghan household. I did not enter the kingdom as a diplomat, soldier, teacher, journalist or foreign aid worker.
My dad worked door-to-door selling soda and seltzer. My husband’s father owns a compound comprised of numerous two-story European-style houses where the various families sleep with patios, expensive Afghan wool carpeting, indoor gardens, and verandas. Because of my foreign stomach, the foods — kebabs, rice dishes, yogurts, nuts — are baked with Crisco instead of ghee, an evil-smelling, rancid, clarified butter that is loved by locals but wreaks havoc on a non-native’s stomach.
I am only 20, and I am now a member of this household, which consists of one patriarch, three wives, 21 children (who range in age from infancy to their 30s), two grandchildren, at least one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law and an unknown number of servants and relatives. The smell of ghee alone can make you throw up if you’re unused to it. He speaks Dari (even though I cannot) and leaves me with the other women. And I will spend every morning and afternoon that follows alone with my mother-in-law and female relatives. Secretly I stow away canned goods that I indulge on in the brief moments that I’m left alone.