One Half From the East

One Half From the East
Written by Nadia Hashimi

Publisher’s Summary:
Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune. Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different, and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room. One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck–dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh. Obayda is Obayd. Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes.

Primary Source Pairing:
For many readers, this will be a first look into the lives of children from Afghanistan and the concept of “bacha posh” when a girl dresses as a boy. The story of Obadaya (Obayd as a boy) is a powerful example of how gender is valued in Afghanistan. Read the Author’s Note with students to demonstrate how author Nadia Hashimi’s family and her upbringing allowed her to succeed; she writes, “I was cocooned with an extended family who applauded achievements and encouraged aspirations others might have reserved only for boys” (Author’s Note).

For this primary source pairing, invite students to study an image of children from Afghanistan. Encourage students to make connections between what they observe in the photograph and what they read in Obadaya’s story in the book One Half From the East. Additionally, use the map to help students understand where Afghanistan is in the world.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What’s happening in the image?
  • Make a connection to these children and what you read about Obadaya and Rahim in One Half From the East.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Afghan children in Khost Province: Photographer: funbobseye, Wikimedia Commons
Afghanistan map: