An Afghan Woman’s Voice

A short story by Gulchaman Rahmani

Zarmina was sick, very sick. She was resting when her husband, Harron, entered her room. He screamed, “Why are you sleeping? What have you cooked for dinner?

Zarmina smiled. “I am very glad to see you, dear.”

Harron stared at her for a moment. “If you are smiling and healthy, what is your reason for sleeping like a corpse here?”

Zarmina told him with patience, “I have been sick since yesterday and Zalmai has done all the housework.”

Harron went to another room and called both Zarmina and Zalmai. Zarmina was frightened because Harron was looking upset and angry. She moved toward Harron with trouble.

“This must be your last time sleeping during day! You are not allowed to do it anymore. You can sleep only during the night from 10pm to 4am.” He added, “It is the only warning that I am giving you.”

Zarmina opened her mouth to speak, but Harron cut her off.

“Don’t talk; I don’t want to hear a word. Go and cook dinner. I want it brought to me in 30 minutes.” He added that their son, Zalmai, was not to do even a simple job at home from that moment on. “He is a boy and housework is not his job. It is just your responsibility.”

Zarmina went to the kitchen and started peeling some onions and pumpkins. She was crying about her poor life. Harron shouted for a glass of water. Zarmina brought it to him.

Harron looked at Zarmina’s eyes and shouted, “What is wrong?! This crying is because of the things I told you?” He picked up a colander and started beating her.

Zalmai heard his mother call for help, but he was too young to protect his mom. She was alone.

Zalmai could not bear to be a witness to his mother’s death. He left the house ran toward their neighbor’s home and knocked on the door. The owner, a young man named Hashim, opened the door.

“Un…un…Uncle, my mother!!!” Zalmai said.

“My son!! Be calm and take deep breath! Then tell me what happened.”

Zalmai took a deep breath then quickly told what had happened. Hashim grabbed Zalmai’s hand and he ran toward their home. They opened the door and there was silence. Hashim thought there was no one at home. He went toward the kitchen where he saw terrible things. There was blood all over the floor and Zarmina, who was bleeding from her head, was taking her last breaths. She was leaving this world while Harron bent over her.

“Come on, don’t joke with me, stand up and cook the dinner,” he said. He shook Zarmina’s shoulder.

Hashim took Zarmina’s wrist to check her pulse but there was no heart beating. She had left this cruel life.

“She is my wife. Don’t touch her!” Harron screamed and started crying.

“She was your wife but now you don’t have a wife,” Hashim said. “And your baby has died too.”

“What do you mean?” Harron asked.

Hashim said that Zarmina was pregnant, that she had told Hashim’s wife.

“Don’t joke with me,” Harron said.

“I’m not joking. My wife said just a few days ago how lucky Zarmina was to have another child on the way, while we have never been blessed with a child.”

Harron was shocked.

Hashim called an ambulance and they arrived and Zarmina was carried to the hospital where mother and unborn child were pronounced dead. Harron didn’t deserve their love. That’s why, they both decided to go to another world. How hard it is.

After some days of investigation, they arrested Harron and sent him to the jail. However, Harron was a rich person and got out of the jail by bribing authorities. Hashim and his wife adopted Zalmai and he became their child. They were excited and delighted but sad because of Zarmina. They were always saying, “Harron has money but he can never have humanity.”

Zalmai believed this was what his mother was saying from her grave too. For sure, this story is an Afghan woman’s voice with the name of Zarmina.

Zarmina!!!! I am sorry that you are not with us but your voice is always and ever alive.

About the Author: Gulchaman Rahmani is a graduate of Kabul Medical University where she studied stomatology. She is also a Star Educational Society alumna.

Writing by Afghan writers. Editor/Publisher: Nancy Antle; Editor: Pamela Hart

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