A short story by Bahara Hussaini
Photo Credit: Masooma Maqsoodi
I have always seen and heard of the good sides of love, until the day I met a kind and beautiful lady named Sahar. She lived with her children; she had a full-time job as a teacher. I often saw her with her two sons on the weekend playing at the park. One afternoon, I was leaving the park and saw her sitting on the bench. As I walked towards her, I saw that she was crying. I became curious and asked about her unhappiness and she told me her story.
“I was the princess of my family. I had a happy life with my parents and siblings. I was the oldest child of my family, so they depended on me and respected me, especially my father. I enjoyed being the oldest child because I was responsible for keeping the income, and I was free to use as much money as I needed. I believed that I had the best life. I went to university and I also I helped my mother in house work. Everything was going great until the day I met the son of our servant. He came to meet his mother one day. He was tall and handsome. His attractive eyes cast a spell on me in our first meeting and I fell in love with him. After meeting him, I was no longer a happy princess. He came often to our home to meet his mother so no one was suspicious that we were in a relationship.
We met each other secretly until his mother sent him to Iran to earn money. When this happened we kept in touch with the help of his mother exchanging our letters. After a few months, my family members found out about our relationship and warned me to forget him because he did not deserve me. My father was the most upset. He yelled at me saying that he was not going to have me marry his house servant. He became emotional and told me that he loved and trusted me.
He said, “My beautiful princess, you are the pride of our family. You are the best of the best. For my sake, don’t make this mistake. I am sure he is not the right man for your life. He does not deserve you at all because he is not educated. He has not done anything for his family and he does not even know how to behave with older people. You deserve the best so, please wait and marry a man who deserves you.”
I had no words to express my feelings. I understood his message, but my father did not know that I was under the spell of the servant’s son. He was in my thoughts and soul. I could not imagine another man in my life. Soon after, my father fired his mother. The situation did not improve, however, since all I could think of was him.”
In this moment, her youngest son interrupted us to tell his mother that his elder brother would not give him his ball back. I was eager to know what happened to their relationship and many thoughts raced through my head. Was it truly love? Was it possible to love someone without considering his/ her negative points? Was it even logical to ignore the wishes of one’s parents? I had to know the rest of her story.
I asked her to continue, she sighed painfully and exclaimed that love destroyed her life. Tears rained again from her eyes like the rain of spring season. She hid her face with her two hands and paused for a few minutes.
I regretted that I had asked her to continue. So I said, “Dear Sahar, I am really sorry. Please, stop telling your story if it makes you sad. I cannot bear to see you crying.”
She cleaned her tears with her small pink handkerchief. “No. I don’t care if it makes me sad. Maybe it will keep you from making the same kind of mistakes I made.” Then she continued.
“Despite my family’s disapproval, we continued our relationship in secret. I was completely changed. I was not that happy girl who enjoyed studying and brought laughter to the lips of all family members. I was always thinking of him and how we could get together. After a year of being in Iran, he asked me to send him money so he could come back to Afghanistan. Since I was in charge of managing the family money, I sent him enough money for his ticket and for gifts to bring to relatives, as it is traditional in our culture. He came back to Afghanistan and after a few days, he and his family came to our house to officially ask for my hand from my father.
As expected, my father insulted them and warned them not to come a second time. I lost my way. There was not any possible way we could get engaged officially, so we continued our secret relationship. He told me how he wanted to buy a car and have some pocket money but, he could not since he did not have a job. Shortly after, I bought him a beautiful car which was destroyed after two months because of his recklessness. I regularly gave him pocket money without informing my family. In addition, I did not think to question him on why he did not have a job or why he was not trying to find one. One day, he gave me the idea of running away; so I took enough money from home and we escaped to Pakistan. After reaching Pakistan, we had a nikah ceremony so we were married and started our new lives. With my sudden absence from home, all my family members thought that I was kidnapped; this was until they found out a few days later that I had gone to Pakistan. When they arrived at our house in Pakistan we were afraid. My father ordered me to return with them to Kabul; I had no other choice than to accept because neither my love nor my own courage could face my father’s anger. And my love, my husband, just disappeared when he found out that my parents were searching our house. So, the princess was back in her lovely palace. My family, especially my beloved dad, behaved very well towards me until one day I became sick and it was revealed that I was pregnant.
My relationship was in ruins and this news made it worse. I was not my father’s princess anymore. He even refused to look on my face after hearing this news. He said he no longer had a daughter by the name of Sahar. She was dead to him and everyone in the family he proclaimed and he insisted that no one talk to me or help me in any way.
“She has ruined our reputation in the community,” he shouted.
I was completely shocked and wished that I could wake up from this horrible dream and discover that I had not run away. I knew I had made a big mistake. My kind mom and my siblings were crying in each corner of the house as if I was really dead. My father demanded they stop crying and ordered my elder brother to take me back to Pakistan to my husband’s house and he himself left the house. My mother hugged me tightly and said I had no other option than to leave the house before my father killed me. She unwillingly said good bye to me by saying that her prayers were always with me.
In that moment I was so mad and sad that my tears did not permit me to look at the house where I had passed my childhood and on those people who had helped me in each step of my life. I could not believe I was leaving my family and my childhood home forever. All the way to Pakistan I was thinking of the man who just disappeared from our house in Pakistan. Why had he not tried to call me even once after our arrival in Afghanistan? How did he allow my father to break up our relationship without a fight? How could I deal with my new life without any money? The only thing which gave me hope for the future was that we could support each other to have a better life. There was a hope shining in my dark life until I understood about the real character of my so-called lover. After a few months of our marriage, I found out that he was a heroin addict. The only things he could do were sleep, eat and spend my money which I had brought from my father’s house. After the birth of my son, there was not a rupee to take my new born child to the doctor. His family wouldn’t help us either because of his addiction. They wanted him to give up his addiction, go to work and earn money.
My life was like a hell as if I was being punished for my mistakes. I was neither dead nor alive but I breathed because of my four-month-old baby. Time passed and his behavior got worse day by day. All doors were closed to me I had no other option but to deal with him. I was dead to my family members and relatives; I also had no place among the community as a shameless girl who had fled with her lover which is a taboo in my country. In the rural provinces, I would have been stoned to death. I was lucky because I was living in Kabul and I survived which might be more painful than that punishment. After five months of living in Pakistan, we returned to Kabul. Here, I found a job as a teacher to provide food and money for the house. The only thing I wanted from my husband was too live with me in peace. I continued as a teacher and provided money for all the expenses of the house. In addition, I had to give him 100 Afs per day for his drugs otherwise he beat me and he threw dishes and glasses in his anger. I was just trying to live with him by acting as a wife but also as the man who provided for the family. Besides, all the challenges I faced, I was happy and doing my responsibilities in the best way.
In the second year of our marriage, we welcomed our second child, but my husband was getting worse day by day; torturing me for no reason and preventing me from going to my job because he wanted me to stay at home with him rather than be at work with other men who made him jealous. Still I was determined to provide a happy life for the four of us. I begged him to be good to us; it was all I wanted from him as husband and father. The only thing we wanted was to live in peace without his anger.
But it was a horrible dream with no end. He was getting worse and being more dangerous to me and my children. Once while beating me he shouted that he did not like me and one day he would kill me. He accused me of having relationships with men at my job and ordered me not to go there anymore. I tried to convince him that I did not do this and that he was the only one whom I loved in the world. After all, I left my family and education for him but he did not believe me. I explained to him that it was not possible for me to quit my job because there was no one else to provide us our expenses especially the 100 afs per day he needed for his drugs. That was when he permitted me to go to my job. His behavior with us did not improve but I had no other option than to try to deal with him. He was my only problem. I had learned how to take care of our family on my own.
A week before Eid-ul- Azha, I took my salary and bought new curtains and Eid sweets and I also bought new clothes for the four of us. I was so happy because I had become a little bit financially independent. Everything looked great. I had my two cute sons and the man of my life though he was not whom he pretended to be. Still I loved him and I was satisfied with what I had. One day remained to Eid, I happily left my job and went to my home to prepare for the holiday. Once I opened the door everything looked strange. My two sons were hiding themselves behind a box in the corner of the house with white faces. My house was in chaos; glasses and dishes were smashed, curtains were ripped and all our belongings were strewn on the rug as if the house had been attacked by a group of robbers. I ran toward my sons who had hidden themselves. They were too afraid to say anything. I took them from behind the box, hugged them and asked them what had happened and where was their father. They hugged me tightly and started crying and told me that their father said he would kill all of us. This sentence destroyed all my hopes. I tried to be strong and save the life of my sons and myself even as I was shaking and crying.
I did not know what to do. A few minutes later, my brother and mother-in-law came to our house and told me that my husband planned to kill me so I had to escape. While they were saying this, he arrived with an iron bar in his hand and came at me but his brother prevented him from killing me. I got the chance to escape and move to another area. I am secretly living in this area. I am really worried about my children. I can provide them food and a house but what if their so-called father finds us (God forbid!) and takes them from me? I will not be able to live without them. They are my only reason for living; I have no one in this world without them. I have a better life without him my husband now, but I cannot live without my children.
I interrupted her and asked if she still loved him. She stared at her sons playing in front of us, and told me that she had heard his mother was searching for other women to marry him. There were tears in her eyes as she said this and I could see that, yes, she still loved him but she had no other option but to leave him forever.”
I was speechless at the end of the story. I told her that she was strong enough to raise her children alone and she definitely deserved to live happily. And I also encouraged her to try to make amends with her own family and apologize for what she had done because it is too hard to live without any supporters. I have not seen her since but I hope she has found the support she needs. I will always remember her.
About the Author: Bahara Hussaini graduated from Kabul University with a degree in English Literature. She is interested in writing and doing research. Now she is majoring in Political Science and Public Administration at the American University of Afghanistan and plans to work in women’s capacity building in the future.