It was a rainy day; quiet and cloudy. Yalda used to like rainy days.
Yalda was seventeen and she was to be married to a man named Abdul, who was twenty-five. He was killed on a rainy day and now she no longer likes rainy days.
Yalda had not wanted to be engaged to Abdul. She wanted to continue her education. But Abdul was a rich man and he could take everything he wanted by power or threats. First, Abdul’s family went to Yalda’s family to ask for Yalda on behalf of their son. Yalda’s family said, “No.” Their daughter was too young and not ready for marriage.
Abdul warned Yalda, “If you don’t want to become my fiancée then I will kill your parents.” Yalda was afraid. She has a younger sister and brother. She thought, how would I forgive myself if Abdul killed my family? Without telling her parents about the warnings, Yalda decided she would marry him. She told her parents that it was her life and she wanted to be married to a rich man like Abdul.
But within a few months, Abdul was dead. His brothers killed him because of a land dispute. By then Yalda had learned to like Abdul. He loved Yalda and made her happy, and she’d forgotten all about the threats. The day she found out Abdul was dead, it was raining so hard that Yalda thought the sky was crying with her.
In Afghan culture, if the husband dies, often his wife has to marry one of his brothers.
Yalda did not want to marry one of Abdul’s killers. But the brothers came to her and said that she must marry one of them now. Yalda said no, she would not marry the man who killed her fiancée. They told Yalda if she did not agree, her father would have to pay them. Yalda’s father was not a rich man, but he agreed to pay. He had a small house that he sold. He paid Abdul’s brothers $20,000 for his daughter.
Now Yalda lives a poor life with her family. She cannot afford to continue her education. She wanted to open her case in court for her inheritance, but she says the corruption in the system prevents it.
Who knows what is in her kind heart? Because of her family she has a smile on her face, but no one sees that Yalda is crying inside.
Photo: REUTERS/Ahmad Masood