Words of WonderMask - Dr Parween Pazhwak

Don’t give me consolation
I’m ashamed of my tears
Go without looking at me
I don’t want you to find me weak
And give me the opportunity
To carve for my cheek
A mask of stone
To hide and seek. 

by Dr Parween Pazhwak (Afghanistan)


I recognise this feeling of exposed vulnerability and the need to ‘hide and seek’. Our mask is what keeps us together, keeps us able to face the world when we feel we are falling apart inside, and there is just no way we can let others into that vulnerable spot. When a tear makes its way out from behind the mask our inner vulnerability is exposed and it feels like we have nowhere to hide.  At these tender times words cannot touch us, it is not consolation we need, it is just to be left, in peace, that we may find the deeper answers from within.

Today I am thinking especially of all the women, of Afghanistan, whose freedom to express may be threatened right now.

May this poem be a symbol of human inner strength and resilience and may everyone experiencing traumatic times right now find a place within where they may ‘hide and seek’.


Dr Parween Pazhwak was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1967 and is a distinguished artist, writer and poet. This poem was read at a celebation of International Women’s Day in Sweden.

Dr Pazhwak says about her poem:

“Afghan women have carried the burden of war on their delicate and patient shoulders more than one time.  I have expressed their longing for peace, peace of mind… in a poem twenty years ago.

This poem was translated into English and French  four years ago and got published in a book named “The Hidden Face of Afghan women”:

. . .

Today I am praying for the women and children of Afghanistan.


Salaam – May peace be upon you