My Childhood, part 1

When I was born I did not cry. I weighed about three kilograms and the doctors kept me in a glass-encased machine for a week, examined me, and took blood tests. They gave me injections in my head and arms. After a week I grew thinner and weaker. My father saw this and decided to bring me home, hoping I would become healthy. At home I gained weight and after some months I was fine. I had curly golden hair and white skin.

I was the fifth child in my family. I was ten years younger than my eldest sister who always took care of me. She played with me, brushed my hair and made a pony tail, and sang me to sleep. She was very kind. She helped my mother to care for all the kids in the family.

I was about five years old when my sister got married. It was during the Taliban regime, and my parents had to marry off my sister at a young age. If the Taliban discovered a young girl, especially a beautiful one, they would kidnap her and force her into marriage. It was quite difficult for us. It wasn’t safe and my parents were afraid of losing their daughter.

My parents and siblings wept at my sister’s wedding. I was still in a world of childhood and didn’t know much about the real world. I cried on her wedding night because she was not there to sing me to sleep. It was difficult, but I got used to being without my sister.

We lived in a suburb and we did not have electricity, clean water, or shops nearby. My father was a carpenter. He would bring wood from his workshop so my mother could make bread in a muddy stove. At first, my mother wasn’t very good at making bread because she wasn’t accustomed to using a primitive oven. Sometimes the oven would collapse: the paste that kept it together—a mixture of flour, water, and yoghurt—would fall apart, and everything baking inside would fall into the charcoal and wood. It was a difficult and dangerous way to make bread. I never went near that stove, but I saw the scars on my mother’s hand.

My father’s income was not enough for all of us. We had a dog we kept for security and we would feed him bread that fell onto the coals. I remember one day when my youngest brother and I were very hungry and had nothing to eat. I asked my mom for food and she told us to wait until my father came home from work. We couldn’t wait. I got some of the burnt bread and a glass of water, sat near my brother, and began to eat. My brother was two years older than me.

“You don’t want to eat?” I asked him.

“No, I don’t like that bread. It’s too hard to eat,” he replied.

“But if you dunk the bread in the water it will be soft,” I said. “Yum! It is delicious.”

Then he took a bit of bread and tried it. I knew that he didn’t like it but he had to eat it because there was nothing else.

When my mom saw us she caressed us and said, “Don’t worry. Your father will bring food tonight.”

My mom is very kind. Sometimes she would give her own food to us and not eat any herself.

“But Mom! What about the dog? What will he eat?” I asked. She pointed to some remaining burnt bread. I put a piece on the dog’s plate and he ate it. Like us, the dog knew he had no choice. 

Our situation grew worse. Eventually, my father had to close his shop because he had no customers. We decided to emigrate to Iran.

By Rahela

Photo: Spozhmai Atash


  1. Michella says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. From it, I can tell that even when you were young you showed signs of perseverance (eating the burnt bread even though it wasn’t appetizing) and that that perseverance has carried with you and allowed you the courage to share your story with the world. May you keep writing and keep your will to survive!

  2. Oren Kahn says:

    Rahela, This is very touching. This has opened my eyes to the conditions in you country. Your story is very interesting and I am glad I had the chance to read it. Being a man in America, this is hard for me to imagine your situation, but I am glad I can now. Overall this was great and I really enjoyed it.

    Thanks, Oren Kahn

  3. Rod, Kian, Olivia, Torrey, Cate, Jeffrey, Segun, Sam, Emily, Ms. Smith, & Ms. Bryan says:

    Dear Rahela,

    We’re a group of 9th grade students (boys and girls). You inspire us and we are touched by your story. You are brave. You are strong. Stay writing and stay strong. Keep surviving.

    ma meegim shoma khaly khoob bashi en Iran. (I speak Farsi but, i cant write it.)

    • Thank you guys for reading my piece. You know Farsi very well. Tashakor. Khosh shodam az comment zibaye shoma :)

  4. Thank you for this story Rahela jan. I love how you encouraged your brother to each the bread. I am so sorry you had to suffer, but very much appreciate you for sharing this small, sad episode in your life.

  5. Lovely, Rahela,

    Such an inspiring story. Thanks so much for sharing it and teaching many of us so much about your own life and lessons we can all draw from what you’ve gone through!

  6. Richelle McClain says:

    The detail about the scars on your mother’s hand made me shudder. Perhaps you were a weakling when you were born, but not anymore. You’re brave and a survivor. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. This story moved me to tears, Rahela. Please keep writing. We’re all honored to be able to share your life with you through your words.

  8. Dear Rahela,

    My Name is Alayna and I am a first year transfer student at Saint Mary’s College of California. I was so touched by your story because you are so appreciative of what you have. I appreciate so much of what I have because if I was in your situation I would not be as strong as you. Even though you are the youngest, you seem like you are one of the strongest. Even going through so many adversities as an infant, you continued to fight. I love that you still shared and encouraged your brother to eat because you could have ate all of it. You are a very selfless person, just like your mother. She should be proud. I have so much respect for you because even in your situation, you still put your siblings before yourself. You make use of what you have and don’t expect anymore. I thought it was the cutest thing that you thought about your dog because I am a dog lover myself. I treat my dogs just as if they are my brothers and sisters. You are so brave and I loved reading your story. I am so sorry that you were separated with your sister. I have an older brother that I am really close with and I cannot imagine losing him. I cried when he left to college, but that does not come close to what you went through. You are so positive despite what you have been through and that takes a very courageous person. Keep on fighting! I hope your family is doing better and that you continue to write. Take care and God bless!


  9. Dear all,
    Thank you so much for your nice comments.

  10. shannon says:

    This gives a better understanding with what is going on in your country. A very powerful piece. Must of been tough growing up with very little food and money i feel grief for you. Very touching story.

Speak Your Mind