Loving a Refugee

Shabana Stanekzai
To commemorate World Refugee Day, this poem was written by an Afghan woman whose husband is a refugee abroad.

Loving a Refugee

Love can be felt
In the far away land
Where they call you a “refugee”
And me a “woman, waiting”.

When life’s fields are hit with lighting,
We become you and I.
We are the leftovers
Of a burned generation.

Nevertheless love can be felt,
In your clothes hanging on the walls of my home,
In the delicacies we eat on Friday’s,
In your empty spot near the window,
And in my senseless melancholy.

On Eid days,
I look at your framed photo staring back,
And my trembling hands cross off days on the calendar.

My eyes break the borders of seven seas,
So I can whisper hopeful words of love
To you, from Iran, to Greece, to Australia,
And farther to America and Canada.

You lose your breath with every breaking news.
What does a world that makes your days
Shake with breaking news
And mine with waiting
Know about the pains of a refugee.

Read this poem in Persian here.

Shabana Stanekzai

Shabana Stanekzai

Shabana Stanekzai has a degree in science from Kabul. She had always dreamed of studying literature, but war and instability prevented her from pursuing her passion in school. Today, in addition to being a member of Free Women Writers, she writes poetry and short stories and works at a non-profit in Afghanistan. Her source of happiness and energy is her adorable two-year old son.
Shabana Stanekzai

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Daughters of Rabia is a collection of Afghan women's writings in defense of their human rights. The book was published by two Afghan activists, Noorjahan Akbar and Batul Muradi, in 2013. Following the book's success and distribution in six provinces in Afghanistan, Noorjahan Akbar created the Free Women Writers blog to continue publishing women's writings in Persian, Pashtu and Uzbeki. Since then, the blog has expanded to include hundreds of articles, poems, narratives, essays and paintings about gender equality, environmental concerns, economic inequality, democracy and other social justice issues. With a weekly readership of more than thirty thousand, the blog has reached tens of thousands of Afghans. This website is the English translation of these writings. Read the Persian book here: