Short Story: Yaqoot


  • Homeira Qaderi Council on Middle East Studies (CMES), Yale University



Yaqoot, the narrator, recalls the story of her life when in her youth she gave up her love for Rahim, a young mujahid because her father wanted to marry her off to the son of a communist friend of his. During the civil war with the Taliban, she lost her husband. When we meet her in the story, Yaqoot has a son who is engaged to be married. On a hot summer day, Yaqoot accidentally runs into Rahim who has survived the civil strife. Rahim, too, has lost his wife. Together they go visit a shrine. Yaqoot gradually comes to honor her once abandoned and now rekindled love after the long hiatus and decides to marry Rahim. This time, Yaqoot’s son stands in the way. Her son can’t believe that his middle-aged mother is considering remarrying—a taboo in Afghan culture.


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Author Biography

Homeira Qaderi, Council on Middle East Studies (CMES), Yale University

Homeira Qaderi is an Afghan writer, activist, and educator. She has written seven books, including a collection of short stories, and an acclaimed novel entitled Noqra: The Daughter of Kabul River (Tehran: Rozgar Publishers, 2009). Qaderi received her PhD in Persian literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University, in India. As a lifelong activist and a staunch defender of women's rights, she was awarded the Malalai Medal—Afghanistan’s highest civilian honor—for exceptional bravery by the president of Afghanistan. She was a writer in residence at the University of Iowa in 2015. Her first book in English translation, Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother’s Letter to Her Son (Harper, 2020), was excerpted by the New York Times and chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best nonfiction books of 2020. Before leaving Afghanistan, Qaderi taught at Gharjistan University, in Kabul. Earlier, she worked in two different Afghan government administrations as senior advisor to the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs, and the Disabled, and before 2021 as senior advisor to the Minister of Education. While at Radcliffe, Qaderi is writing a novel, inspired largely by her own experiences, with a working title Tell Me Everything. The novel follows a girl from the Kabul suburbs who is kidnapped during the Soviet-Afghan war and taken to St. Petersburg. After the fall of the Soviet Union, she returns to her hometown, which is under Taliban rule. The novel follows her experiences living under the Taliban rule and through the American invasion and her eventual immigration to Smyrna, Delaware, USA.

Image 9: Skateboard (2019) by Keyvan Shovir