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Sharbat Gula

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Author Topic: Sharbat Gula  (Read 10615 times)
Heba E. Husseyn
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« on: December 02, 2009, 01:32:46 am »

Do you remember the famous picture clicked by photographer, Steve McCurry, of that very young, simple and uniquely beautiful Afghan village girl in 1985 named Sharbat Gula.  She was only 12years old then.  The photo was so captivating that it made headlines in National Geographics and many other journals.

If you now follow the photos below of Sharbat when she was first photographed at age 12, and then again when Steve went to Afghanistan more than 16 years later, he again found Sharbat and photographed her with the permission of her husband.  By then Sharbat was in her late 20s or 30.  Still very, very young but her extremely hard life robbed her beauty and made her look years older than her age.  That's how easily beauty can be destroyed if one is unfortunate.

The girl became an orphan at age 6 during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  She fled to a refugee camp in Pakistan with her 2 siblings and grandmother.  This refugee camp closed in 2002 and Sharbat returned to Afghanistan sometime before that.  She lives in the mountaineous Tora Bora region of Afghanistan.  As Wikipedia puts it, Steve McCurry and his team "finally located Gula, then around the age of 30, in a remote region of Afghanistan; she had returned to her native country from the refugee camp in 1992. Her identity was confirmed using biometric technology which matched her iris patterns to those of the photograph with almost full certainty. She vividly recalled being photographed—it was the first and only time she had ever had her picture taken. The fame and symbolic character of her portrait were completely unknown to her."

Before and after

Time and hardship.  Hers has been a hand-to-mouth existence. She had not been photographed since Steve McCurry made her portrait in 1984, and she only agreed to be photographed again—to appear unveiled, without her burka—because her husband told her it would be proper. She is a private woman, uncomfortable with the attention of strangers. A devout Muslim, she attributes her survival to the “will of God.”

With her husband and 2 children.  She remembers her wedding day, when she was perhaps 16, as a happy one—possibly, her older brother told the Geographic team, the only happy day of her life. She became an orphan and refugee of war at about age six. Soviet bombing killed her parents, and her grandmother led her and her brother and sisters on foot, in winter, to Pakistan, where they lived in various camps.
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TEAM MV Founder
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2009, 02:17:14 am »

What an interesting topic to put up.  This is just like a movie story.  Indeed her pic as a 13-year-old looks so charming and with so much enormous beauty.  If she was born in a privileged family, she would have maintained herself and grown up into a gorgeous looking woman.  Instead, she was an unlucky person who saw so much of war and the tragedy of losing both parents at such a tender age.  I can only pray and hope that she's happy as a married woman despite losing her beauty.  After all, keeping one's happiness through a happy marriage is far more important than only keeping one's beauty.  However, because she was so "uniquely beautiful" as you so correctly put it, it feels sad to know that her life was too rough to preserve it. 

Search engines give plenty of information on her.  The following is another interesting link of Sharbat Gula.

A Life Revealed
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TEAM MUSLIM VILLA The Avid Reader | Mom of 3 cute rascals
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2009, 02:40:09 am »

Lovely and touching read.  May Allah grant them every comfort in the next world.  There's absolutely no justice here.  Just shows to what great an extent had earthly life can ravage one's appearance.  Let those so-called celebrities and royals lose their millions squandered in grooming and plastic surgeries and then watch how they look.
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