The Patience Stone

by Atiq Rahimi

This is a compelling, intriguing and unusual novella. War is raging in an Afghan village and comes straight to the door of an unnamed woman who is caring for her comatose husband. As she talks to him and God about her secrets, disappointments and true feelings about their life together; the reader is given a rare and touching insight into the life of women in Afghanistan.


'And then I realised that since you've been ill, since I've been talking to you, getting angry with you, insulting you, telling you everything that I've kept hidden in my heart, and you not being able to reply, or do anything at all ... all of this has been soothing and comforting to me.' She grasps the man by his shoulders. 'So, if I feel relieved, set free - in spite of the terrible things that keep happening to us - it is thanks to my secrets, and to you. I am not a demon!' She lets go of his shoulders, and strokes his beard. 'Because now your body is mine, and my secrets are yours. You are here for me. I don't know whether you can see or not, but one thing I am absolutely sure of is that you can hear me, that you can understand what I'm saying. And that is why you're still alive. Yes, you are alive for my sake, for the sake of my secrets.'
Translated by Polly McLean


Unveiled: Voices of Women in Afghanistan by Harriet Logan

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