stone stairsWhenever I hear the name Farzana, I burst into tears and can’t talk. I always pray for her, but no one wants to talk about her.

In our neighborhood in Iran, there was a family and the wife’s name was Farzana. Her parents were divorced because Farzana’s mother was addicted to drugs.  Farzana, an Iranian, was married to Morad, an Afghan working in Iran. They were engaged for two years. Morad was good-looking, and at first he worked hard. But strangely, Morad never went to any of the local events, and we soon came to know that he held no love in his heart for either Farzana or his children.

Soon after they had married, Farzana came to know the real Morad. Whenever he came home from work, he would ask if she had made anything for him to eat. If there was nothing ready to eat, Morad would hit Farzana. It did not make a difference if there was no food in the house for her to prepare. He would hit her without listening.

Their first child, Alireza, was a boy. By the time Alireza was a year old, Morad began demanding that Farzana work. Morad knew full well that Farzana had little hope of getting a job because of her lack of education. I never understood why, but Morad stopped caring about his responsibility to his family and would only work for three or four days. Farzana was forced to ask the neighbors for necessities for the house. Farzana did not want to beg; she did not like the situation that Morad had forced her into. But she knew Morad would not care that she did not like begging.

Then Farzana began stealing from her neighbors. At first it was little things that she thought her neighbors would not notice. She needed to feed her family. But after a while, Farzana began stealing more. She committed big crimes and became addicted to drugs.

Farzana started making relationships with other men. She hoped this would wake Morad up. She wanted Morad to stop her from looking for money. But he was too stupid to do so. Farzana did almost anything to pay for household expenses. Before she would leave the house, Morad would give her a list of what he wanted her to bring home.

I remember Farzana coming to our house, her eyes full of tears, saying: “I didn’t want to end up this way, and I still don’t want to, but it is the way I am bringing money in for my family.” Divorce was not an option because Farzana had no family to return to.

By this time, Morad and Farzana had three daughters and two sons. The other Afghan families would advise Morad not to treat his wife in such a manner. Morad ignored the advice; it was as if he did not hear what people said to him. He didn’t let his daughters go to school after primary school. Alireza became addicted to drugs.  The neighbors finally became fed up with this family and warned them to leave the area.

In 2004, a lot of immigrants returned to Afghanistan. Morad was one of them, but he returned without Farzana. When he registered, he did not list his wife. He left her in an empty house with absolutely nothing. I remember how hard she cried. For three days and nights, Farzana cried. She said to me: “I did anything for him and he stole my children. I don’t care about him. I just want to see my kids.” Farzana was sure that she would never see her children again. She knew there was nothing she could do.

Returning to Afghanistan did not bring Morad any luck. He soon lost his eyesight. Alireza had returned to Afghanistan with a girl, Lale, who had escaped from her father’s house. She was known as a trashy girl. She became Alireza’s wife after they crossed the border. Farzana’s oldest daughter Aysha became engaged, but could not marry because Morad would not give his permission unless her fiance’s brother would agree to give his 18-year-old sister to Morad.

Maybe because she missed her children or because she needed protection, Farzana remarried despite the fact that Morad had never divorced her. Farzana’s second husband, Abbas, was Iranian. But he was worse than Morad, doing many of the same things that Morad had done to Farzana. They had a baby girl who eventually died of malnutrition. After two years, Abbas divorced her and left her alone as well. She died in the corner of the street near my house.

By Fatima A