Silence: A Woman's Wound?


With the increasing movement of forced migration around the world of refugees seeking solace from torture, violence, and captivity, their stories and plights become voices in our own homes. The Kingdom of Armenia, the first state adopting Christianity as a state religion in the early 4th century, is currently receiving Yezidi refugees fleeing Iraq, and Armenian refugees from Syria. In the Armenian homeland, then, we are hearing stories of different origins and it is important to explore what this may mean. How may we receive the suffering of someone else, a stranger?

In a healing relationship with the wounded, we are witnesses; we are bearers of witnessing those moments when another reveals their vulnerability, and when we recognize such vulnerability then we find the unanswered voices. The foundation of any healing is when we close our eyes without losing the perception of how the other— how you— are suffering.

When we hear stories from the mouths of the women who bear the words every day of their lives about violence, there is also a profound silence of the dead— the voice of the fallen woman; fallen from her home, her life, her land. However, the fallen woman has not disappeared, nor vanished, but she has been taken; she is a stolen breath, a stolen heart, a stolen soul, and now, now she is a stolen story.

The fallen woman, in the passage she took to survive, lived between life and death. Before she fell, she lived her narrative¬—she embodied every word. Her strength carried her, she became the body that was carved onto her life and shadowed by society. And, the fallen woman, she stood before she fell. She told. She told the story of her silence. This story travelled from her land and her silence can no longer shroud or protect her. All over her, her wounds are open. Then, as we see the bleeding of tears, her silence fell from her, and then she too falls as she weeps. The woman falls and she is not seen. Here, silence is empty: silence is both deaf and blind. Her death is seen more clearly than her story is heard

Disclosure of a story—the enemy of silence—threatens her survival, her life. The silence is the scar. The silence is the wound: the wound in life and the wound for death. Silence does not hold any potential for remembrance. We should create a silence of listening, a silence of prayer, a silence of seeing. A story can make us suffer if we do not receive empathy. Empathy needs to be created to heal.

Until empathy rises through our voices, the violence will continue even if the physical violence has ceased, the violence of silence remains until we share our stories. Receiving a story is an act that has the potential to create a freedom to be practiced. Her voice can become louder and stronger. As the world hears more, the world will grow in empathy. Let us remember, as we listen, may we find the vision to see the story of the stranger—now, our neighbor.

Dr Ayesha Ahmad







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