Creative Writing – 131 – Comprehension Exercise

Creative Writing – 131

Comprehension Exercise

Comprehension questions with answers

Question Passages taken from NYT

“Something wrong” was a euphemism for working with the Americans. Billions of dollars in foreign-aid money were pouring into Afghanistan to promote “democracy-building” and other U.S. projects. Young women in Kabul could make hundreds of U.S. dollars a day from an array of new civil-society jobs; the city seemed to be thronged with trendy Kabulis hopping into Toyota Corollas and blaring Bollywood music. Under the surface, though, resentments simmered. U.S. soldiers launched night raids on family homes; air strikes mistakenly struck weddings, killing civilians. “Everyone thought bad things about the women who were working in N.G.O.s,” Faqeer said.

In 2005, Faqeer took a side job translating for Torrie Cobb, a police officer from Little Rock, Arkansas, who was training Afghan policewomen. Cobb was struck by Faqeer’s enthusiasm. “She was so excited to be part of a new movement in her country,” Cobb said. The job paid four hundred and fifty dollars a month, but it was dangerous. The U.S. compound where they worked was frequently attacked by suicide bombers, who also targeted the buses that the employees rode to work. “Every day, I got on that bus thinking I would die,” Faqeer told me. Once, she witnessed a bombing that left the body of a young guard entangled in power lines. Faqeer’s co-workers encouraged her to join the Afghan police, but she politely declined. She overheard Afghans talking about the women who enlisted. “They were saying they were having sex with their commanders,” she told me.

Faqeer attended fancy lunches with colleagues and shopped at high-priced boutiques. “It feels so good when you’re independent,” she said. She ignored the men who jostled her in the street. One afternoon, in 2005, when she took Mina and one of their brothers to the bank, she noticed a group of men in white following them. She pulled her siblings along, then ducked inside the bank. She tried to hide her fear, but Mina knew what was happening. “If my sister was under threat, we all were,” she told me. Faqeer called a colleague at the radio station, who sent a car to bring her to work, and she bundled her siblings out the back door, telling them to go straight home. That evening, the men were gone. She put the incident out of her mind.


1. Why was the United States spending huge amounts in Afghanistan?
2. How was the effect of American money visible in Kabul’s streets?
3. Why were many Afghans antagonised?
4. How did the ordinary Afghans feel about women working with N. G.Os?
5. Who was Torrie Cob? What did Faqueer do for him? What was his impression of Faqueer?
6. What did the locals think about Afghan women working for Americans?
7. Was Faqueer scared to move around? If so, why?
8. How did Faqueer spend her extra income?
9. What incident happened that scared her and Mina when they were on their way to office? What did Mina react to the danger?
10. How did Faqueer manage to evade the danger?


1. The United States was determined to promote democracy in Afghanistan. For doing this, it had to build the country’s educational, health, and governance infrastructure. Building such facilities brick by brick was an arduous task requiring huge outlay. This is why the U.S. had to loosen its purse strings in Afghanistan

2. A few Afghans cornered large incomes as the U.S. administration there tried hasten the re-building projects. They rode luxury cars, listened to Bollywood music, and led an ostentatious life style. They were a frequent sight in Kabul’s streets.

3. The Americans launched airstrikes to counter the Taliban fighters. At times, the bombs and rockets killed civilians. Such loss of lives infuriated the locals whoop put the blame squarely on the U.S. forces. This aggravated the incipient antipathy against the western forces whom the Afghans saw as invaders.

4. Afghans being deeply conservative do not approve of women taking up outdoor jobs. Besides this, they were very hostile towards the U.S. forces operating in their country. Thus, an Afghan woman working for the U.S. forces became object of much suspicion and contempt.

5. Torrie Cob was a police officer from Arkansas in the United States. He was assigned the duty of training local Afghan women for police duties. Faqueer worked as a translator for Cob. He was all praise for her enthusiasm and dedication to work.

6. The Afghans saw the women working for the U.S. forces as persons of low virtue who had sold their soul and dignity for a few dollars. The women were loathed for their support to the occupying forces.

7. Faqueer knew danger stalked her every step since she worked for the Americans. She knew fellow Afghans had been trailing her with the intent to teach her a lesson for the work she did for the Americans.

8. The extra income gave Faqueer to indulge in small pleasures of life like buying fancy clothes and visiting boutiques in Kabul. She ensured her family’s needs were met adequately.

9. When she was on her way to office accompanied by her younger sister, Mina, she was horrified to find that a group of young men in white flowing robes were stalking her. Their intention seemed to be hostile. Mina was terrified too. She knew some ghastly outcome awaited them.

10. She and Mina rushed into a bank to get some breathing time. She called her office and asked for a car to rush to the spot. Both sisters hurriedly entered the car and sped home. Thus, she escaped a catastrophe by a hair’s breadth.

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