Bigamist shoemakers in Colombia and Afghanistan

Coincidence: last night I finished the Afghan Khaled Hosseini’s novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, about the two wives of a shoemaker in Kabul. It is terribly hard to keep reading, because the shoemaker is a violent brute. Fortunately, I must say, the oldest wife kills him when he tries to strangle the youngest.But I finished it half past one in the morning, couldn’t stop reading, wanted the women to be well. Well, the youngest ends well, the oldest is trialed and shot by the Taliban for killing her husband. She accepts her fate bravely.

This morning while working, through Twitter I saw a message of Colombia Reports. A shoemaker in Colombia also lives with his two wives. With the first one he has nine children and with the second six. They live in the same house, as the two Afghan women in Kabul do.

The guy seems quite satisfied with the situation although it is hard to feed two wives, his mother, who also lives in the house and the 15 children. The women however, although they try to be brave, are not so happy. They think they just have to accept. But one wonders why they do. Firstly: get pregnant so often. In Colombia, a woman has a choice, you can’t blame just the guy. And secondly accept the situation of bigamy which is hard for them.

The Afghan women both marry the shoemaker when they are about 14. They have lost their family and in Afghanistan as a woman alone -and so young – you have no way to go. The oldest, Mariam, is forced to marry the shoemaker. She is the illegal child of a rich man, who doesn’t want to take care of her after her mother’s death. The second one, Laila, is in love with a boy about her age, Tariq. But the shoemaker, who takes care after her after her parents’ death, contracts a guy who arrives at the house to tell the story that  Tariq is dead. Laila believes the guy, feels that she can go nowhere and marries the shoemaker.

At first the women are enemies, but because of the shoemaker’s awful treatment – they are often beaten and in an extremely cruel way – they become accomplices. After Mariam kills the shoemaker, they are both free, although Mariam has to pay with her life.

The Afghan women finally escape from the situation, the Colombian women, I don’t know what will happen. One would wish that they both find another guy, who really cares about them. But with so many children, that is not easy. It seems they just surrendered to the situation. That is hard to understand.


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