Rabia Balkhi, the first and only Afghan queen and Persian poetess.


I found this “letter to Rabia” quite a statement, from a Western perspective. 

The Princess and the Slave

A story of how love still kills in Afghanistan

Author: Nushin Arbabzadah

Dear Rabia,

I am writing to you across centuries – from the land of the living to the realm of the dead. The year is 2012 and you were murdered exactly a thousand and sixty-nine years ago. You have the dubious privilege of being our first recorded case of honor killing.

She lived in the 10th century.  She fell in love with her brother’s slave.  She was imprisoned by her brother and committed suicide after writing her last poem, Love, on her prison wall with her own blood. 

I am caught in Love’s web so deceitful
None of my endeavors turn fruitful.
I knew not when I rode the high-blooded stead
The harder I pulled its reins the less it would heed.
Love is an ocean with such a vast space
No wise man can swim it in any place.
A true lover should be faithful till the end
And face life’s reprobated trend.
When you see things hideous, fancy them neat,
Eat poison, but taste sugar sweet.

Rabia Balkhi was the first and only Afghan queen.  Today, there is a hospital named after her.  Her tomb, presumably, is in the now familiar city of Mazar-e-Sharif.  A movie of her life survived destruction by the Taliban.

Her famous last poem became popular as Ahmad Wali’s “song”:

About Barbara Dillon Hillas

Mother of global nomads; wife of diplomat; peripatetic lawyer; annotator of foreign service life, rule of law, culture, travel, & whatever strikes my fancy.
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