by Nadia Nashimi
Reading about the lives of people struggling to survive the oppression of fundamentalist regimes can knock the wind out of us. We who are sitting in our chairs reading about what it takes to flee, to survive, to live in constant fear of being sent back, to be without food, money or shelter, are when in the hands of the proper author, there too.
When the Moon is Low is the story of Fereiba and her family in Afghanistan just before and just as the Taliban take over. It is the story of her arranged marriage to Mahmoud who she learns to love as much as he loves her. It is the story of that life cut apart when the Taliban target and murder Mahmoud. And it is the story of what it takes to have the courage to survive at all costs.
Fereiba flees with her teen-age son Saleem, her daughter and sickly infant son through Iran and into Europe on her way to England. The young family is helped along the way by people who understand suffering and hope in the same breath. But when Saleem is separated from the family it becomes two stories. Fareiba’s journey to England and her eternal hope for Saleem. And it is now Saleem’s story as an Afghan refugee wandering on his own, making his own way relentlessly through the cities of Europe to get to his family.
There are many thousands of people in this world fleeing to another place, escaping their homeland for the chance to live at all. We hear nightly about borders being patrolled, fences being built, over filled boats overturning, refugee camps, and all I could think of while reading this in the comfort of my chair was, “could I do it?”
(advance copy provided by Above the Treeline)