Afghan author to share experiences

The tumultuous state of Afghanistan and the gradual loss of rights for its people are hot topics in both political and civil debate. The Tech community will have an opportunity to hear a firsthand account of life for women in the country. Farooka Gauhari, author of the first memoir of an Afghan woman written in the English language, will speak Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Derryberry Auditorium.

“I am not a historian,” Gauhari said. “But I can offer a summary of the people and what we went through. I want to tell of my experiences in Afghanistan.”

Gauhari’s memoir, “Searching for Saleem: An Afghan Woman’s Odyssey,” profiles her painful search for her missing husband, struggle to maintain self under a totalitarian government and ultimate decision to leave the country with her family.

“The book talks about my day-to-day efforts to search for my husband, who was an air force officer,” Gauhari said. “He just left the house and did not come back.”

During the Soviet invasion and civil war that took place in Afghanistan in the late 1970’s, Gauhari and her husband were labeled “antirevolutionist” and Gauhari’s husband went missing. After searching for him for nearly two years, Gauhari discovered that he had been killed.

“After I found out what had happened to him, I thought, ‘this is my country and I will be treated as an antirevolutionist,'” Gauhari said.

No longer feeling safe in the country, Gauhari made her way out with her children.

Published in 1997, when no other Afghan women had ever published their memoirs in book form, Gauhari’s story offers insight to the shrinking of rights for females in Afghanistan and their declining role in Afghan government.

“I was a well educated, outgoing person and I was unable to find facts,” Gauhari said. “I think of the women today who cannot go out alone. How much would they suffer in my situation?”

Once a country where women had the right to vote, dressed as they pleased and made up nearly half of the labor force in some cities, Afghanistan and its people have been transformed under the Taliban rule ushered in by the unrest in the country after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union.

“I would not go back to the country today,” Gauhari said. “I still feel that I owe my country something. I was educated well there and want to help the people, but I want peace there first. I will not go back in war.”

Formerly an associate professor at Kabul University in Afghanistan, Gauhari has also worked in the biology department at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

This is a Center Stage event hosted by the Women’s Center and is free and open to the public. For more information contact Diana Lalani at womenscenter@tntech.edu, in Pennebaker 203 or by calling 931- 372- 3850.