Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Unveiling Naroon: the resilient poet-painter thriving against all odds

Immigration News

Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati
The blows of your axes wound my young shoots; what will you do with the inevitable growth of buds?/Image/Khaama Press.

Written By: Hakim Bigzaad

Her name is Naroon, a girl who writes poetry and paints. She translates “Naroon” herself as “decisive,” which is originally the name of a tree that grows in difficult conditions. She seems to be moving along this bond in a way that she is deprived of continuing her education and, in her own words, is full of “hardships” to grow herself – like a Naroon tree that continues to grow in difficult conditions. The bravery of this young girl exemplifies the verse of “Khosrow Gulsurkhi,” who says: “The blows of your axes wound the young shoots of mine, what will you do with the inevitable growth of buds?”

Naroon studied archaeology at Kabul University and is among the recent graduates of this university among female students. There is neither a career path for her nor the possibility of continuing her specialization in her field of study. Yet even in these circumstances, she remains “decisive” like her name, and her buds of inevitable growth have flourished in her poems and paintings.

She speaks with a calm and measured demeanour, and her face reflects a wave of hope and motivation. She is currently learning the art of painting in one of the workshops in Kabul. The workshop she attends has the appearance of a relatively large hall adorned with various artistic paintings in different styles. The walls of this gallery are covered with paintings of nature, portraits, images of poverty, and culture. Dozens of other girls are also busy learning the art of painting alongside Naroon in this place.

When I asked Naroon how she cultivated two artistic talents, poetry and painting herself, she said: “Painting is also like poetry; sometimes it takes shape in the artist’s mind. After universities closed their doors to girls and burdens and heavy problems arose, my eloquence in composing poetry came alive within me and turned into the writing field.”

She continued her conversation patiently and said that although she loves classical poetry and is passionate about the works of Rumi, she uses the style of “Sepid” in composing poetry, which has also been called “Nimai” and later “Shamlouyi.” This type of poetry is an artistic movement that began in Persian language and literature in the 1950s.

Naroon in the Painting Workshop/Image/KhaamaPRess.

Naroon, alongside composing poetry, also began learning the art of painting two years ago, after the restrictions against women were imposed, and her goal in pursuing it is to reflect the situation of women and girls experiencing similar destinies in Afghanistan.

Speaking with a tone distinctive to writers and poets, she says, “I want the patterns I follow out of inevitability in painting and the colors, each telling a tale of pain, to be imprinted on the forehead of history so that girls and the generations after me know the conditions in which we lived and what transformations girls of my era witnessed.” This ethos, according to Naroon, this resolute girl, is what she brings up from her heart about art and endeavor to continue.

She emphasizes what she considers “personal will” amidst her talks, which pulled her from the four walls of her home to painting workshops and art exhibitions. She urges girls not to underestimate the power of this will because, as she puts it, “survival is inevitable,” dependent on this very “will.”

The land where Naroon and her contemporaries live has had art and poetry as an integral part, nurturing this spiritual capital for centuries. Female artists have also walked this path alongside men and played a tangible role in creating literary and cultural works. However, women’s lives in this geography have been a “subject” or theme reflected in poetry, painting, writings, and narratives.

But now, the canvas of painting and poetry doesn’t experience many bright days, and recently, activity in this sector has dwindled both by women and men. Afghanistan, a land that nurtured personalities like Rabia Balkhi, Mahjuba Herawi, and Makhfi Badakhshi, has now become the only country in the world where girls are deprived of the right to education.

Palace of Darul Aman, a work by Naroon /Image/Khaama PRess.

But Naroon believes that one can thrive in any situation with the right approach and sufficient determination. She has thrived in such circumstances to the extent that the workshop supervisor and her painting guide were “astonished” by her progress.

In response to the question of what style she follows in painting, she explained: “The styles I prefer are mostly modern and Russian styles, but the most important reason I turned to painting is to portray the hidden weaknesses that are not depicted, such as the condition of women, poverty, and the lower class.”

Ruhullah Adib Kabuli, the chief director and instructor of the painting workshop, has this to say about Naroon: “She is a girl with initiative and diligence. She pursued her work with enthusiasm and zeal in a short time, even participating in several exhibitions. While Naroon also bears the responsibility of her family, her diligence amazes me.”

Kabuli says that more than a hundred students are attending this workshop, most of whom are girls, and their queue is getting longer daily.

24-year-old Naroon, immersed in the art of painting and poetry, spends her leisure time reading history books, novels, and general knowledge, and calligraphy is also part of her pastimes.

This poet and painter says: “Afghan women have lived with restrictions for a long time, both inside their homes and in public places. However, there were women who fought against adverse conditions and were not enchanted within the confines of their homes. My goal is the same, to be the voice of women in this geography through my art on international platforms.”

According to Naroon, “In this period, I managed to become a painter in a short time, although there are countless obstacles.”

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