When I was a child, stories about heroines and brave women were always astonishing to me, whether they were real, legends, or fairy tales.

Later, when I grew up, it occurred to me that some of the women I know are also heroines—the only difference being that they were never written about, so the world had never heard of them. 

I know four women in my life who are heroines: both of my grandmothers, a maternal aunt, and my mother. Each has her own story. Why are they heroines? I will explain to you.

My paternal grandmother, God bless her, was a brilliant woman. She never went to school, but she knew how to read and write. She became literate by reading the holy Quran. She was wise and well known for her morality and behavior among our family. If anyone faced difficulty, she would advise and come up with an answer to solve the problems, drawing on lessons from Islam.  

She taught us about goodness and not to hold grudges. She would say, “Life is shorter than we think.” She told me that it is better to be thankful for everything we achieve in our life. I lost her when I was thirteen. I still miss her and dream about her. She taught me a great lesson about goodness.

The second heroine is “Granny,” my maternal grandmother. God bless her, she was the most unique woman I have ever known. She was simple, hospitable and kind like no other. Her door was open to everyone. Whenever we went to visit, there were always guests at her house. I never saw her angry. I learned from her how to be optimistic in the face of all events, and to be fair.    

Whenever I feel disappointed, I remember the innocent faces of both my grandmothers. They were two angels with human faces. 

The third woman is my aunt who exemplifies patience when confronted with difficulty.

When she lost her husband in war, she was a young woman with four children. The last two were twins, just six months old. Her husband was lost during a grim regime in Afghanistan. Only she knows how hard she tried to raise her children and struggle with difficulties and loneliness.  As a result of her struggle, her children completed their education. Two became doctors and the twins became lawyers.  

Today she enjoys a peaceful life in the shadow of her children. She is a great mother and grandmother and a valuable teacher to me. I learned from her the lesson of patience.    

The last heroine is my kind mother. She has been doing everything she can to help me and my two siblings further our education. Although our education was interrupted during the Taliban regime, with her help and encouragement we were able to not only compensate, but continue on to higher education abroad.  

She accepted and tolerated loneliness and let us go in search of knowledge, something that most Afghan women do not dare to do, especially when it comes to their daughters. But she is different, and that is what makes her special to me. Her belief in her children is endless, so we, her children, try our best to be worthy of her sacrifices.  

The greatest lesson I have learned from her was how to divide my time and efforts to accomplish my beloved’s demands and achieve happiness.  

These women are my life’s cornerstones. They taught me how to live. They are examples of the women around us who are as brave, kind, clever, and patient as the heroines we read about in novels and history books, although nothing has been written about their courage and strength. 

I would like to thank these women for giving me my life’s lessons.     

By Farida