I was 13 years old when I told my family that I wanted to attend school. My family said, “Sana, how could you go to school when you have a disability?”
“I know I am disabled, but I want to be educated,” I told them. My family finally agreed.
People were mean to me. “Why do you come outside when you have a disability?” they said. In the Taliban time disabled people were not even allowed to go out. But I kept going to school and after a while I became the top student. Everybody wanted to get to know me better and I made lots of friends. One friend was so beautiful and the nicest girl I ever met.
We had so much fun with each other. I went to her house to visit and she came to our house too. We were best friends. We told each other that we would never forget our friendship and we would be together always. I was so happy that God gave me a friend like her.
One day I was at school and I asked my classmates, “Is she not here?” They told me no, she was not. After three days she still was not at school so I went to her house. When I arrived, I knocked, but nobody opened the door. As I started walking away I saw her neighbor and I asked him why no one opened the door.
The neighbor told me that three days ago something happened. A person had been burned in the house. I was very worried that it could be her mom or sister. I asked him where I could find them, and he said they were at the hospital.
I went home and told my mom and changed my school dress and took a bus to find them.
When I saw her family at the hospital they were crying. I didn’t see her. I felt weak, like I was going to pass out. It was very hard to take the steps to talk to her family. When her mom saw me, she ran and hugged me and asked,” What should we do now?” It was scary and my mouth couldn’t say the words, “What is going on in here?” Her mom looked at me and said “Sana, go to that room. Somebody is waiting for you.”
I went slowly to the room. On the bed was a person whose whole body was burnt. I screamed and then passed out.
When I came to, I cried and said, “Don’t tell me… she is my best friend.” They said, “Yes she is your best friend and she was waiting for you.”
Crying, I looked at her and there was a face full of pain, eyes that wanted to cry. A person who wanted to die because she was in so much pain. Then the doctor came and asked me to leave the room. I went outside and I asked her mom what happened.
Her mom said, “We wanted her to marry a 35-year-old man.”
“But why?” I asked. “She is only 13. How could you do that to her?”
Her mother said the man had a house and a car and money. She said the family thought that their daughter would have to marry soon and it was a good idea to choose him. “We told her she would have to marry, but she said she wanted to study,” her mother said. “We told her next month we will perform the marriage for her to that man.”
“We didn’t know she would burn herself. She told us she did not want to live in this world.”
The doctor returned and said the patient wanted to talk to me. I went to her room and sat next to her and she spoke about our friendship and the fun we had and then she told me, “I am sorry I wasn’t a good friend because I have to go now.”
She told me: “Sana, keep your education and in the future tell the parents that girls have rights in their lives. Show the world how Afghan girls lose their lives and tell them why it happens to us.” She said that she loved me and she will be waiting to see me again. She said that.
I kissed her head and I said, “I love you, don’t leave me, please.” But she said, “I am in so much pain…let me go, Sana.” And she died.
I cried so much. I lost my best friend. But that day I felt strong and I promised myself I will work for women’s rights in Afghanistan in the future. I will tell everyone that men and women should have the same rights in their lives.
I know this is a very sad story, but I wanted to share with you how women are treated in Afghanistan so people will understand when Afghan women burn themselves. They should have the right to live in freedom and peace. They should not have to kill themselves. I miss my friend very much. The memories are with me and she is in my heart.
Photo courtesy rawa.org