The Color of Whisper Pink

July 31, 2008
By Natalie Coogan, Littleton, CO

August, 2006

It struck me the other day that pink is a beautiful color. It is a color that has been all but lost in a sea of black burkas. When I was little I would slip on pink bracelets to wear under my burka, not knowing any better, simply feeling pretty. Today jewelry is more common, and when I pass by vendors selling clothing from India of extravagant colors it seems almost ordinary. Then I came to one stand. I took a double take because there was the most magnificent pink sari from India. It was beautifully smooth, and subconsciously I touched my hair, tucked neatly out of sight.

The vendor explained that soon this will be what everyone will wear. He was eager, and so was I as he held a cracked mirror to my face. I noted it was exactly the color of my lips, and when I swayed it flowed slightly outward, like the petals of a flower opening; when the flower is at its most beautiful, in full bloom.

Alongside the attire from India was clothing from America, such as tattered jeans. They were exactly like those on the television, but I couldn’t even touch them. I remember when the Taliban was here in Afghanistan, how I saw women beaten and kicked until they went silent. It was punishment for not being modest. I set the jeans down and left.


After school today my best friend Roya visited. We sipped tea as she showed off her slick red nails to me, which looked exactly like the princess Kaur’s nails in the Indian film we watched. She found my fascination funny, and brought me to a nail salon to have nails painted as well. Inside it was cold and bright, with pictures of westernized Afghani girls, nearly my age, showing off their colorful makeup. I picked up a bright pink bottle that read whisper pink on the bottom. How could such a fluorescent color described as a whisper? I settled for a soft pink that read pastel rose, a universal description.

“Your nails are gorgeous,” Roya complimented on the way out. “You feel like a princess, don’t you?”

“I do,” I responded ironically. I stuffed my hands into my burka, a lifetime habit I cannot erase.

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