The villagers in Oqa, Afghanistan, used to be able to farm the land, but the desert took over years ago. They have an electric generator, but long ago decided it burned up more fuel than was practical. They had a low mosque made of mud, but no imam visits anymore.
The 240 villagers survive, largely, by selling the carpets woven by the women.
“They are called Rembrandts of weaving,” said West Philly author Anna Badkhen. “One legend says that when Alexander the Great invaded in 327 B.C., he sent as part of his package of souvenirs to his mother a carpet.”
Badkhen spent a year, off and on, in Oqa to understand the rhythms and patterns of rural village life in Afghanistan which she documents in her book, “The World is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village.” Her lyrical prose describes the woof and warp of the small community: their frustrations, hardships, relationships, and small joys.
“I want to see it — not through the gunsight of a U.S. soldier, which is often how we see it here in the U.S. — but through the eyes of Afghans,” said Badkhen.
Tune in to WHYY-FM Monday at 11 a.m. to here an interview with Anna Badkhen on Radio Times.