Afghan Journal 2

At the beginning of the year I was introduced to the work of Malina Suliman, a fearless, young Afghan artist. It was her haunting graffiti of a skeleton shrouded by a burqa that made me feel the need to get in touch with her. I had to find a way to tell her the impact her work had on me. And I wanted to find a way to get a picture of this image and hang it in my office.

The problem is that Malina (just 23yo)—and her bold graffiti—are in Kandahar. Birthplace to—and home of—the Taliban. It is one of the most dangerous areas in the entire country, a place where women suffer the worst abuses. Incredibly, however, today I discovered Malina’s signature motif here in Kabul – a second burqa-clad skeleton on a mud brick wall.

When I do hang this in my office, it will be a reminder of Malina’s courage, but also her suffering. Like most stories here, there is no happy ending. While her work stays behind on the streets of Kandahar and Kabul and in the hearts and minds of so many, Malina herself is no longer here. Her father (who opposes her artwork) was attacked, and everyone blames her for highlighting the inequality and oppression women face. The family fled to India.

Other graffiti here is haunting for other reasons. “Yankee Go Home” is a popular one, and I’ve seen it written in red, white and blue.

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