Childhood Memory: Zainab’s Death

When I was ten years old, I was a student in a tailoring shop. In my teacher’s neighborhood there lived a family with one son and one daughter. Their son was 7 and their daughter was 14.

In our culture, girls are not allowed to have boyfriends or relations before they get married. But this family’s daughter had a boyfriend without telling anyone about it. The girl’s name was Zainab; she made a friendship with the boy next door who was 16. One summer afternoon these two went to the trail and slept together. After that the girl got pregnant and everyone knew about that. Her parents became very sad and ashamed for their daughter’s mistake. Unfortunately, most of the time in our culture, when something like this happens, all the suffering and sorrows are for the girl, not for the boy.

Zainab’s mother went to the boy’s family and asked her mother to let his son marry her daughter. The boy’s mother did not accept and said that her son was not going to marry her ugly and bad daughter. She told Zainab’s mother: “If you are feeling sorry for your daughter, why didn’t you teach her not to hang out or sleep with the boys?” The girl’s mother became very sad and angry. At that time Zainab was five months pregnant. The mother came home, took a big stone and put it on her daughter’s belly and killed her.

After killing their daughter, the family moved from that area. Sometimes people saw the boy at the girl’s grave crying. He was a handsome boy with blue eyes, and the girl was cute with brown

I heard Zainab’s mother became very sorry for killing her daughter, but it was too late. She had not controlled her anger. Now the boy has a wife and children, but the poor girl, she lost her dreams and life.

It was one of my childhood’s bad memories. It makes me very sad. Every day many such cases happen in Afghanistan. People remember these for a while, but very soon they forget everything.

By Marzia


  1. Christina Pacosz says:

    These written memories by Marzia have prompted me to finally write in response to these postings. As a poet and a writer myself I can only applaud these efforts at documenting the lives of women in Afghanistan by the women themselves.

  2. As a teenager close to these ages all I can say is wow. This is a very powerful story and hits home in a lot of ways. Thank you for sharing this story.

  3. Dear Marzia,
    You’re so right that these stories must be remembered. I’m glad you were able to find the words. I admire you for finding compassion for all involved. Thank you for writing this.

  4. I’m glad you found the strength to retell this heartbreaking story. These are definitely stories and people to be remembered.

  5. This story gives me chills. I just can’t believe this is an every-day occurrence. The best way to help the world rid itself of these terrible stories is to tell them. Please keep telling them. Write a whole book of them so the world can know what it means to be a girl.

  6. This is so heart breaking. I can’t believe that this kind of thinking and behavior are common. I will not forget your story.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Charlotte says:

    I would not say this story shocked me, but it did touch me. It’s a tragic love story, both because of the two teenagers’ and also how Zainab’s mother reacted. I can’t imagine living in a culture where a mother would turn against her love for her child because of such an act, or one where it seemed accepted. This story has made me thing. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Mahira Verem says:

    Deer Marzia,
    thank you so much for sharing this story with us. It definitely made my heart ache after I read it. To kill her own child just because she was ashamed of what her daughter did, it’s very sad, horrifying, tragic. This story is going to stay in my heart forever.


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