When sisters sit together, they’re always praising their brothers.
Afghan women express forbidden love through secret poems, or landays....
In refugee camps and remote villages, at weddings and on at least one horse farm, we collected anonymous folk poems called landays. A landay is a couplet: a two-line poem passed mouth to mouth, ear to ear, among Pashtun people for at least 1,000 years. No-one knows for certain where landays come from – the most popular theory is that these biting little poems began as a form of communication within the Indo-Aryan caravans that arrived in the region millennia ago. They were born long before Islam, and their closest cousins are the slokas, the two-line verses that comprise the ancient Hindu holy texts called the Vedas.
A landay has very few rules. It must have 22 syllables, with nine in the first line and 13 in the second. It must end in the sound ‘ma’ or ‘na’. It must take on one of five subjects: meena, love; jang, war; watan, homeland; biltoon, separation; and, finally, gham, which means despair or grief. But gham doesn't mean grief in general, it speaks to the particular form of grief that belongs to a Pashtun woman.
When brothers sit together, they're selling their sisters to others.– Anonymous
Unlucky you who didn’t come last night,
I took the hard wooden bedpost for a man.
Because my lover is an American soldier
blisters blossom on my heart.