The General’s Daughter

hand on gun

This is the story of a girl named Maryam who was born to a general in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in Kabul.

Maryam’s father supervised almost a hundred police officers; the rank of general is very important. But when she was two months old, tragedy entered her life. Her mother was cleaning their home and while cleaning the general’s gun, she accidentally shot herself.

Her mother died as a result of the gunshot wound. Maryam’s father was so upset that he could not cope with looking after a baby and he sent Maryam to live with her grandmother. It did not take long for the general to find a new wife. But his new wife was a stranger to the general’s relatives. She did not seem like family to them.

When Maryam grew older, an aunt who lived outside Afghanistan invited her to come stay. She lived in Denmark. Maryam could study there, and she could also get a black market job and send money back to her family in Afghanistan, even though she was underage. So Maryam went to Denmark. She got a job. She worked hard and supported her family. But her family did not appreciate her. They were not grateful at all!

Eventually, Maryam returned home to Kabul, but again, things did not work out well for her. The general’s wife, now Maryam’s stepmother, did not like her. She was jealous. Maryam had an education from outside Afghanistan; she was beautiful and she had a job. 

The stepmother resented this and Maryam’s stepsisters resented it too and encouraged Maryam’s father to hate her. Every day her father hit her for different reasons. If she got home late from her office job, her father asked her where she had been and then hit her. Maryam had to do all the chores in the home. She could not go out to shop without someone to accompany her. If boys saw a girl alone, they would harass her.

Maryam wanted to leave her father’s family. She made a case for herself, and an uncle in Canada invited her to live there. She moved to Canada where she hoped life would be better.

But now, without work or a scholarship so she can study, she has little. She is very lonely and saddened by all that has happened. Like so many Afghan women, she has been through so many hardships her soul is wounded.

By Humaira

Photo: Getty Images


  1. Gloria Nixon-John says:

    Dear Humaira: It seems there might be a support group of some kind for Maryam. Nothing can really make up for a loving family, but I know that even when I have difficulties with family, feelings of loneliness and betrayal, friends are my greatest salvation. Of course my problems are small in comparison, but I have discovered some coping skills. I involve myself in volunteer work. I find that when I do, I forget my own heartbreak. I also make friends through volunteer activities. You can change the past, but must move forward. Doing something good for others tends to heal oneself.

  2. Dear Humaira: I pray and wish for Maryam that wherever she is right now, a window will open, and she will have the opportunity to improve her situation. Even in the best of circumstances, it can be terribly lonely to live away from one’s family, even if that family is cruel. And then, to live so many 1000s of miles away, in a foreign country–that only compounds the loneliness. Thank you for sharing her story, Humaira. May she find peace where she is, and may she have the strength to continue on until things turn for her, which they will!

    All best,

  3. Elizabeth Titus says:

    Dearest Humaira,
    You worked so hard on this piece, and I am thrilled to see it on the blog!
    By sharing the tragic story of your friend, you are letting the world know how difficult life is for Afghan women.
    All the best,

  4. Alice Bullard says:

    Dear Humaira,
    Thank you for this vivid story. Your friend’s life is very clear here. You are a talented writer!
    Maryam is caught between her traditional world and the Western world, where people live mostly by looking after theirselves. So, I would tell Maryam to quit thinking so much about her family and try to think more about yourself. What do you want to accomplish in life? What do you want to experience? There is an immense sadness in Afghanistan, but you do not have to marry that sadness. You can respect it and try to cure it, without letting it take over your entire life. Indeed, you’ll be stronger and be able to do more if you get some distance and some power for yourself. Even if you can’t study full time, you can do on-line courses or courses at a local community college. There are a lot of resources here, so no excuses. Dry your tears, give yourself some love, and move on to a better part of life.


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