Muska Tarin (+Video)
This is the story of Muska’s journey, navigating from being a young bride and mother with many responsibilities while still managing to go to school, study hard and become a women’s rights activist and school principal in Afghanistan. Muska is a fighter whose name in Pashto means “to smile”, and smile she continues to do.
I am Muska Tarin from Afghanistan. I am the only girl in our family. I have four brothers. And I am the mother of four children—a son and three daughters. From the time l was born until now, l have always felt a great responsibility towards everyone in my family. In my father’s house, I served the whole family. My mother loved me, but I feel she loved her sons more. But for my father, I was the favourite. He loved me a lot. He has been my biggest supporter And whenever my father supported me, I felt empowered.
When I was in grade 10, a reputable family approached my parents with a marriage proposal. I was still very young. The last thing on my mind was marriage, but my parents agreed and I was married. Thus, the second phase of my life began. I was still a child, playful, but I was required to be a bride for my mother-in-law and wife for my husband. Suddenly, my life was no longer about studies but filled with other responsibilities.
Nevertheless, I continued with my studies, went to school, came home to do my homework—and the housework! Shortly afterwards, I became a mother and my responsibilities increased. But I continued to juggle being a wife, a mother and a student. One after another, I had three daughters. Shortly thereafter, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, and day by day his health deteriorated.
Despite all the difficulties, I continued my studies. I joined the University of Education as I wanted to become a teacher. I got a job as a teacher in a high school for girls. I also found the time to get involved in social activism for women and children. During the final year, I also started at the Law University of Political Science. Finally, my university education ended, and in 2015, through free competition and the encouragement of all my students and my fellow teachers, I took the management exam and was appointed as the school principal.
At the same time, I became a member of the Afghan Women’s Network and the Civil Activists Association. In order to be able to provide more services, I created an organization exclusively for women. In 2016, I got into the Afghan Youth Parliament. This program was designed to address the problems of the youth and develop their leadership skills. To help address the problems of Afghan women and young Afghans, these two vulnerable populations in Afghanistan, I created a weekly newspaper called Ojan. In my work life, I became more successful every day, but my personal life? Not so much. Despite the best medical treatment in India and Pakistan, my husband did not survive.
After my husband died, many men wanted to marry me. Some of them like my height and social status. They thought that a successful woman would be by their side. Some of them thought that I was still young enough. However, none of these men thought about whether the desires in a woman’s heart are important or not. I rejected all the proposals. I had no desire to remarry. Meanwhile the political situation in Afghanistan was worsening, and the Taliban were advancing. I continued to work for the safety and welfare of women until the situation became so dangerous that I had to leave Afghanistan.
First, I went to Istanbul where I had to work until my documents to come to Canada could be completed. Even in Istanbul, I worked with the organization of Afghans living in Turkey. Finally, on June 7, 2022, I came to Canada. Since then, I have been volunteering with the Afghan Women’s Organization. I also work at Walmart to support my children to whom I am both a father and a mother.
My life is not easy, but I want to fight until life surrenders to me. My name is Muska. In Pashto, it means smile. And smile I shall.
Muska was a women’s rights activist and school principal in Afghanistan. After the death of her husband and the return of the Taliban to Afghanistan in August 2021, Muska’s shoes took her and her children on a journey to Canada. She now volunteers with the Afghan Women’s Organization and works at Walmart to support her family.