The Hero of My Life
Three generations of a family suffer hardship and violence. However, a father’s love for his daughter allows her to break the cycle.
Sakina was young when she got married. By the time she was twenty, she had four children. She was poor, and day-by-day, life got harder. Although a young mother, she was forced to work outside the home to support her children. She worked alongside her husband. They were both cooks for a rich family.
Unfortunately, this brave and kind woman could not afford to send all of her children to school. Out of the three, only one of them, Jan Ali, was interested in studying. The school that he attended was a high school for children of government workers and people of other ethnicities, but not for Hazara children. Jan Ali, who was Hazara, was very intelligent. All the way to the eleventh grade, he was in first place. Given his merit and talent, the government of France provided his school supplies. Yet all his classmates were his enemy. They ostracized and bullied him. Going to school was a huge risk for him.
One dark day, he and his brother were on their way home. A car passed by at the speed of light and his brother was hit. He was taken to the hospital with an injured leg. He should have been fine, but while he was there, a cruel and fanatical doctor intentionally mistreated him. He injected Jan Ali’s brother with something that killed him. He was killed because he was Hazara. Back then, and up to now, the Hazara face persecution and violence.
After this painful event, Sakina decided not to allow Jan Ali or any of her other children to go to school. She didn’t believe they would be safe there, so this worthy and talented boy, Jan Ali, was deprived of an education. His talent was buried. When he became a young man, he married a beautiful and kind girl. This worthy and diligent man is my father, the hero of my life. Financially and spiritually, he is the best father for his children.
When I was born during the first Taliban regime, my family was living in Mazar. There was war in Mazar. Everyone was fleeing to save their lives. Everyone was telling my father to leave his newborn baby behind: “Throw her away so you can save the lives of the rest of your family!” My father told me that he refused to abandon me: “I closed my eyes and heard the voice of my conscience saying that such an act would be inhumane and I would never do it.”
When I imagine them leaving me there, a little baby, I close my eyes and feel such huge fear. I’ve tasted a very bad life, a cruel life. Thinking of such things is hard for me, but I am glad to have my family, especially my father who saved my life.
My father has always supported me. He made sure I got the education he was deprived of. When the Taliban returned last year, he sent me out of the country so that the history of his brother wouldn’t repeat itself. I left wearing a pair of black high top sneakers. This pair of shoes is the most important for me because my father bought them, saying, “I wish for these shoes to walk you to a better country.” My father saved my life once again. I wish I could repay his efforts. I love him a lot, and I miss him.
Fahima Mirzada is an Afghan girl who was a student at Kabul University in the field of physics, but she couldn’t pursue her education, due to the restrictions imposed by the Taliban. She was forced to leave her homeland and her family to save her life and break the cycle of violence and victimization. She hopes to have a brilliant future.
Portrait: Lorna Conquergood with Fahima Mirzada
Oil on Canvas
Size: 24” x 24”