The Rugmaker of
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About the text
Najaf Mazari’s life begins in a village at the foothills of the Great Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. He is a shepherd boy when we first meet him, chasing wolves away from his family’s flock. The background to his life is the warfare that has raged in Afghanistan for decades and it is this conflict that claims the life of his beloved elder brother, Gorg Ali. When Najaf’s family moves from the village to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, Najaf discovers his passion for rugmaking and is set on a course that will lead to his becoming a master rugmaker. Najaf’s love of his craft is his sole consolation when the conflict that claimed his brother’s life intensifies and claims a second brother. In adulthood, now married, Najaf and all the young men of his Hazara clan are menaced by the rise of the Taliban, a force of puritanical warriors that sweeps up from the south and captures Mazar-e-Sharif. Najaf survives being taken prisoner, tortured and threatened with execution by the Taliban, but he knows that his life could be snatched away any day. With the remorseful blessings of his family, he makes his escape from Afghanistan and puts his life in the hands of a people-smuggler. After periods of dread and despair, the final leg of his journey of escape leads him by boat to Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea. Najaf and his fellow refugees are rescued by the Australian Navy and conveyed to the detention centre for illegal immigrants at Woomera in South Australia. A new ordeal for Najaf begins in Woomera as he awaits the result of his application for asylum. Finally accepted as a genuine refugee, Najaf begins his life in Australia, working long days to establish the rug store of his dreams in Melbourne. Eventually reunited with his wife and daughter at Melbourne Airport, Najaf embraces his family then pauses to reflect on all that he has been through. His happiness, he concludes, is a gift from God, worth all the trials he has endured.
• The politics of displacement and the relationship between culture and identity are the major themes of The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif. • What becomes of a person in our world if...
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