# 385: BOOK OF THE WEEK — “Dancing in the Mosque”


Qaderi, Homeira, and Zaman Stanizai, transl. (2020). Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother’s Letter to Her Son.

Story behind the Passage

On some days, writing and reading is less fun. On rainy and dark winter days like this one, it is even less fun. But the reading really is not the thing. I guess, people read more in winter. Who cares? All this is not important when you are reading the story of an Afghan woman who left behind her child in a country that does not care about women. Their names are not even found on the birth certificates of their children. I read this book in preparation for my class on Friday. I am not even sure if something like literature classes will continue to exist in universities in the long run. But this class will take place. The last one this semester. Al ham du lillah! I hope, the students know what a privilege it is to be getting education. But hope can be erroneous. Still, as humans, we have to make it our life-long companion.

1. Sacrifices

Qaderi 14–15

I often wonder how many people make sacrifices for others only because they believe this will make a difference. And then, nothing changes. But the good thing is, I think, that we die before we find out about this frustrating fact. And even if we live to see that nothing has changed despite our sacrifices, our psyche will probably do us the favor of telling us that we have succeeded against all odds. Still, in some parts of the world, I do think that even this life-saving mechanism has been killed. This is the reality of millions living in war-torn countries around the world. Afghanistan ist just one of them — sadly.

2. Birds

Qaderi 161

When I read this passage, I thought of the birds when they left Germany in the fall. I heard their cries as I was walking outsite. I looked above and I saw the same V shape that Qaderi is talking about. Whenever I see this scene, I am always amazed. To me, it is a spiritual experience. It is unbelievable how such small creatures can travel to other continents together. It is beyond my human understanding. And it is even more unimaginable what they see on their journey. I wish they could talk. They can go where people cannot go because the countries they traverse are at war. Still, the birds are free. They carry all the stories with them. And in contrast to us humans who are always blubbering and tweeting, they keep the stories to themselves. Or maybe they sing about them but we do not listen carefully.

3. Writing Stories

Qaderi 166

Of course, I had to mention this passage.

It is what I always tell people.

No one can take writing away from me.

Only I can do it myself.

Why does this always happen again?

Reflection Questions

1) Can you imagine living in a country in which women are sold to their husbands? What would you do? Run away or give up your own life to protect your family?

2) When did you last see the birds fly to the south?

3) Can you understand how someone can treasure writing almost as much as his/her life?