Essay title: My Forbidden Face
Early last year, Latifa and her parents escaped Afghanistan with the help of a French-based Afghan resistance group. She is now 22 years old and living in Paris. The author's real name is unknown to readers; she used the psuedonym Latifa to write the book because she still has family and friends back in Afghanistan, where she was born and raised in an educated, middle-class family.
Latifa briefly describes her family's life as a happy, contented existence in a united, affectionate, religious, and liberal family. Her father has his own import/export business; her mother is a doctor. One of her sisters, 20-year-old Soraya, is a flight attendant, the other, Shakila, is married, living in Pakistan and on her way to the US with her husband. Her older brother Wahid fought during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, while another brother Daoud is an economics major in college.
Latifa looks forward to being a journalist. As the youngest, she is spoiled and catered to. The story begins on September 27, 1996 the day that the white flag of the Taliban is flown over Kabul, the same day that Latifa goes to the town's square to see the mutilated body of a former president and then becomes a prisoner in her home.In shock and horror, Latifa observes how life in her country has changed in one day: "Just yesterday, despite the civil war, life was 'normal' in Kabul, even though the city is in ruins. Yesterday, I went to the seamstress with my sister to try on dresses we were going to wear to a wedding today.
There would have been music. We would have danced," she writes, in a manner reminiscent of Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who chronicled the horrors of the Nazi regime.From 1997 to 2001, the Taliban brutalize the city, heaping inhumanities and indignities on women, who are banned from working, from schools, from public life and from leaving their homes without a male relative. Under the Taliban, media do not exist (Latifa and her family tune into BBC or Voice of America), but the Taliban do use the local radio broadcast to read from the Quran and announce their rules no pets, no music, no television, no photographs, no guns, no portraits, no Western books, no education for.