Contributor Spotlight: Tara Aghdashloo

We are thrilled to have published a beautiful story in our debut issue by the wonderful Tara Aghdashloo. Tara was born in Tehran and is a writer/filmmaker and curator based in London. She wrote a moving story about an Afghan girl living in Iran who becomes addicted to opium. Read an excerpt from Roya's Delight below...

Painting by Tara Aghdashloo

Painting by Tara Aghdashloo

Meanwhile, Roya’s affair with the poppy deepened. On Friday afternoons when the streets were empty and parents napping, she’d escape to the far end of their cul-de-sac where water from Kolakchal mountains flowed down thinly. Behind the bushes, amid the broken branches and discarded trash, she’d put on her headphones and light up. These occasions were never as blissful as the first one; she had to use the unglamorous technique of “sikh-o-sang”, literally meaning stick and stone, to get a small hit. None of her friends liked opium, except for some hard core partiers who apparently would have some after a long night. It was an old-man’s drug from a bygone era and anything but cool. But that’s what she loved about it —other than the high. She imagined the brown substance in its poppy form, blowing in the winds of Kandahar. She imagined the coarse hands of the sunburnt Afghan farmer making swift incisions on the globe-shaped, prepubescent flower, waiting for the ooze to run down. She imagined the policemen chasing out poppy-farmers, the fields set ablaze, the truckloads of opium confiscated. And she imagined another field, in a different corner of northern Afghanistan, where another farming family risked everything to cultivate the sinful flower as their only means of survival.
— Roya's Delight by Tara Aghdashloo
Roma's Delight Spread

To read the whole story, order your copy of The Poppy issue here.