I never will forget the day Anosha Amin Azad sought refuge in our home.
She sat in our living room in her Naksi Kantha Saree. It’s patchwork design, worn by so many women of the villages in Bangladesh, gave her the appearance of a peasant. But Anosha was as complex as the patterns of the garment she wore. She was no peasant but rather the wife of an important local official. One who held the power of life and death over many of the people in the region, including Ahosha.
“My husband, he is a good man.” Her English was excellent but her words less than convincing.
My wife placed a hand on the small woman’s shoulder and looked intently at her bronzed face. “Perhaps but what he has done is not good!”
As my wife spoke I couldn’t help but glance down at Anosha’s feet. Red and black splotches covered them and traced upwards under the folds of her Saree. Evidence that someone had poured acid on those beautiful feet as a sign of disgust. As horrible as the scars were I knew this woman was blessed that her assailant had not chosen her face as his target of displeasure.
Silence settled over the room as this woman who had found her way to our house. Willing the tears to stop she looked up. I could envision Anosha as she should be; dressed in brilliant blues and oranges and greeting visiting dignitaries. She too was a person of importance. At least as much importance as a woman could have in this land.
“My husband is … “ Her voice faltered as she forced the rest of the sentence out into the open. “He is displeased with me.”
She needed say no more. In this country, the displeasure of a husband could involve anything from his wife’s adultery to her bad cooking. His displeasure with her could well mean at best her banishment and at worst her death. Anosha had every reason to fear that word. Displeasure.
I stood and paced across the room. Such a gentle and loving wife. All she wanted to do was please her husband. No matter. She had done something unthinkable to him and for that she could well face the loss of her children, her dignity, and even her life.
“It’s just not right.” I blurted out the protest as though I thought my very words would bring justice where there was none.
The woman on my couch blinked and smiled. “Of course it isn’t right. But I live ten miles beyond the Great Commission.”
It was my turn to blink. For the woman sitting before me was a rather unassuming American dressed in an equally unassuming print skirt and top. Anosha Amin Azad was no longer with us.
I stared out the picture window of our warm and safe home toward the wide open fields across the street. There were no teeming masses here. No women in bright colored Sarees. No Islamic law that ruled by abject fear rather than justice. There was quiet and peace here. And a pretty little country church just down the block.
The woman sitting on our couch smiled again. “Like I said, I live ten miles beyond the Great Commission. Things are very different there. But even women like Anosha are not beyond the touch of God; thanks in large part to people like you and your wife.” She followed my eyes out the window and pointed down the street. “And little country churches that send what they can so women like Anosha can find pleasure in God’s eyes even when they have found displeasure in their husband’s.”
The Hungarian writer, Karinthy Frigyes once proposed the idea of six degrees of separation. Meaning, none of us are more than six persons removed from any other person on the planet. But Gloria Thurman brought to our Mississippi home six degrees of connection. Connection to a woman named Anosha Amin Azad. Connection to a woman cast from her home for the horrible crime of being baptized as a Christian. Driven from her village for the despicable act of loving the One who first loved her.
And now, because you have listened to me. You are also connected to Gloria Thurman, a missionary from Mississippi and Anosha Amin Azad, a woman of Bangladesh who found displeasure in her husband’s eyes but pleasure in the eyes of God.
(Anosha Amin Azad is a fictional name but her plight is not!)
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