The Day I Set Myself On Fire
My arranged marriage was violent from the start. When I couldn't take it anymore, I decided to burn it all down, starting with myself.
Illustrations by Anke Gladnick
“I paid your father the bride price for you, so you have to sleep with me whenever I want,” my husband, Karim, who was several decades older than me, told me when I refused to have sex with him. Perhaps it was the dismissive laughter that followed that was the trigger, or perhaps it was an idea I had considered before, subconsciously. No matter which way I look at it today, I can’t recall the exact moment that I decided to end my life by setting fire to my body to escape the physical and mental violence I had endured for six years.
It just happened.
I was on my way to the hamam (public bath), since we didn’t have a bathroom in our small house outside the city of Herat in Afghanistan. I saved money to be able to afford the luxury of bathing once a week at the public baths. As I was about to leave our tiny one-room apartment, Karim stopped me. He was of a much larger build and girth than I was, and a seasoned albeit unemployed martial arts teacher, and he was…
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Narratively to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.