Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Zahra’s Tale: Life of poverty and struggle in Kabul’s narrow lane

Immigration News

Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati

At the end of a narrow lane in Kabul, there exists a community united by one common factor: poverty and the fruitless endeavour to secure their next meal. Among the families residing in this lane, there is one particular household that stands out, the household of Zahra.

According to her account, they “soften dry bread with water” to prepare their meals. While the use of dry bread is not unusual in this lane, Zahra is a mother who has lost her only son to the clutches of poverty.

Zahra’s right foot is bandaged, and she moves with great difficulty. At just 21 years old, she appears to have been drained of the energy and vitality of youth. Surprisingly, she readily agrees to talk, speaking in a composed, measured, and candid manner. It is as if she has recounted the story many times before, starting from where she lost her son.

Residents of this neighbourhood share a common grievance – lack of access to water. They must fetch their essential water supplies from a distant source. About a year ago, while attempting to lift a heavy water container, Zahra fell and broke her right foot due to the weight. There was no one to care for her and her son, who was only half a year old at the time.

The only memory that haunts her is her son’s inconsolable cries, driven by extreme hunger. She says, “The pain in my foot was so unbearable that I couldn’t sleep. I had to take sedatives to be able to sleep. Before I lost consciousness, I would hear my son’s cries. I’m sure he was crying so intensely because of hunger.” Zahra reveals, “I hadn’t had proper food for days,” and her breast milk was insufficient to satisfy her child’s hunger. On the other hand, her broken foot left her with no money for medical treatment. While her child remained restless due to hunger, she endured excruciating pain.

In a desperate attempt to escape the pain, Zahra resorted to taking painkillers. The last thing she remembers about her son is his prolonged crying: “As long as I was conscious, I could hear my son crying. When I woke up in the morning, I saw that my son was no longer crying. I wanted to hold him, but I realized that he wasn’t breathing.”

Before losing her son, Zahra had witnessed her husband’s death. Before that, she had also lost her parents. Now, all these years of suffering and hardship are summarized in just a few short sentences.

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