A fictional short story by Frozan S.

“SUGHRA! SUGHRA! Where the hell is my tea?” my father yelled. “I told you to prepare tea for me and your brother before we arrive.”

“Please, forgive me, it will not happen again. I was reading a book.”

“A BOOK?!” My father shouted and then began beating me with his prayer beads. He uses his prayer beads every day to ask mercy from God, but whenever he wants to punish me, his innocent and orphaned daughter, he uses the same thing.

Years ago, when I was only three years old, he killed my mother by setting her on fire. No one talks about it, but a neighbor told me when I was old enough to understand. Everyone just stood by and watched her burn. I do not remember it, but I can imagine it, and it terrifies me. My mother was not the first woman who was burned by her husband in my country and unfortunately, I am sure that she would not be the last.

He killed her because he believed that my mother wanted to save herself and me by getting a divorce and leaving him alone with his sins. He did not kill my mother, because he didn’t want to be alone or because he couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. He killed her, because he was afraid of people and their words. He didn’t want people to say he wasn’t strong enough to keep his wife. He is a very jealous person and no one has any right to say a single word against him. His improper pride is his everything.

When I was still young, he got married to a very bad woman. His wife made him my enemy which is why I feel like an orphan and alone. When I was in eighth grade, he prohibited me from going to school any longer, because of his old mind and evil heart, and because his wife suggested it

“You are older now. I don’t want you to go out a lot. You can write a letter to your husband in the future — that’s all the writing you will ever need. Stay at home and learn how to serve your future husband`s family. Your stepmother will teach you. I’m uncomfortable with you going out. People will think I have raised a bad girl.”

I was a very intelligent and wise student at school. My grades were great and I wanted to become a doctor and serve my people, but my own father destroyed me and my dreams. I begged him to let me, but he used force to shut-up my weak voice, by beating and giving me no food for days. He made me live like a bird inside a dark, cold cage. My stepmother was my jailer. To others having a father is a miracle, but to me, my father is a misfortune. Now being happy seems impossible.

Whenever my father speaks with my brother his voice becomes like a romantic song. He does not have any bad expression on his face. He smiles as pretty as a new born child. According to him I am the pain and my brother is the great joy of his life. But I see the truth. My brother is a lazy boy. He is in ninth grade and goes to many centers to study math and English, but at the end of the year he comes home with very bad grades. It doesn’t matter. My father does not say a word. There is a huge difference between me and my brother. He has new clothes and notebooks, but I have only one old and hidden notebook. We are living in the 21th century but my condition is even worse than the people of the 10thcentury. My life and existence are a curse to my family. I have no one to praise me or hug me. My own father and stepmother behave like my enemies. Is being a girl a crime? Am I useless? I always have these questions in my mind, but there is no answer to them. The only thing I can do is borrow my father’s prayer beads and ask for mercy from God every day to change my cruel fate, even though I doubt that even God will help a cursed creature like me.

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