A short story by Gulchaman

Parwin’s son, Najib, was three-years-old when she began telling him stories.

“My lovely son,” she began. “This life is painful. Listen, I am going to tell you a cheerless story. There was a woman named Parwin who loved her husband, Rahman, so much, but he did not deserve her love. He left her while she was at the hospital having a baby. Yes, Parwin was alone when her child was born.

Rahman abandoned his wife and new born baby. He was a drug addict and he was not able to make good decisions in his life. Parwin didn’t know where he was but she received a letter from him while she was still in the hospital. The letter said, “I am okay but I cannot be a successful father. Therefore, I am leaving you forever.”

After reading this letter, Parwin cried for hours. She had lost all hope of having a complete and prosperous family. She was shattered. But Fatima, a nurse, was merciful and could not watch this horrible situation without doing something. She suggested that Parwin and the baby come to live in her home. Fatima was not wealthy. She had a simple house with two rooms where she was living with her old mom.

Parwin accepted Fatima’s suggestion and thanked her for her sympathy. Parwin and her child went to live in one of Fatima’s rooms. Parwin named her son Najib. She moved on with her life but still loved her husband and could not forget him.

Parwin was not able to work outside the home at first because of her baby. When he turned two she found a job. She became a housekeeper in a building. One spring day while Parwin was cleaning the kitchen in that building, Najib, who had come to work with her was looking out the window watching the grass and trees dance in the pleasant breeze. Birds were singing for all the world to hear. It was a magical sight for him. While he was listening to the birds singing with closed eyes, suddenly a beautiful child dressed in modern clothes shouted to a man nearby “Thank you Dad! It was delicious.” The father smiled and said “My pleasure. Next time I will buy you five boxes of chocolates and you can share them with your classmates.”

Najib’s mouth watered at the thought of chocolates. Parwin hugged him, wishing he had a father like that too.

Najib asked “Can you buy me chocolate, Mom?”

Parwin became silent for a minute and then told him “Yes…..yes, but after two months when I get my salary. I promise you to buy some chocolates.”

Najib then told his mother “Mom you are great and I love you.”

After many years of hearing these sad stories from his mother Najib felt sad too. He became depressed. One day, soon after he had turned ten, he decided to go for a walk to get away from the stories. He was thinking about the misery of their lives as he crossed the road, not paying attention. A taxi hit him and he slammed to the ground. The driver was horrified that he’d hit a child and carried him to the nearest hospital while he was unconscious.

At the hospital, doctors checked the boy and told the driver that the boy was in a coma and might die. A neighbor had seen the accident and ran to tell Parwin what had happened. She came to the hospital in a hurry and when she saw the driver she could not control herself and screamed at him and tried to choke him. The doctors stopped her and put her in another room so she could become calm. A policeman came to talk to her and told her that her son had stepped in front of the driver with his eyes closed, according to witnesses. The driver was not speeding but he had no time to avoid hitting the boy.

The driver came into the room a little later. “I’m so very sorry for this accident.”

“I know it is not your fault,” Parwin said. “I think it is mine. I’ve told my son nothing but stories about the misfortunes in the world.”

The taxi driver asked for more explanation, and Parwin began telling him about the hardships of her life.

When she was done she added, “If my beautiful son will only live and not leave me alone I will tell him better stories. It is true that there are poor and rich people in the world but the poor can be rich by trying hard. There are wonderful people in the world too like Fatima and her mother. We all should look after each other and we will have a peaceful and beautiful life, indeed. Life can be enjoyable if we smile and laugh and try hard for a better life and world.”

The taxi driver was sympathetic and told her she could live with him but Parwin ignored him, until she looked more closely at his face and realized this driver was her long-lost husband, Rahman. He looked much older but his smile was the same. She threw her arms around him and cried. He told her that he was no longer addicted to drugs and made a living as a taxi driver. She agreed to live with him again and after five months their son came home from the hospital to live with his parents.

From then on, they tried to always tell their son good stories and he attended his classes with more energy. He became a popular writer after finishing his school and university and published books about poverty, justice and humanity. He saved his family from poverty and worked hard for a better world with the message that if we are strong and come together we can truly make life better for everyone.

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