I have had a difficult life, very difficult. When I was a young girl my parents arranged my marriage. My husband was a tailor and he was a very nice person. He behaved very well and I lived with him for ten years. But his family was not like him. It was my fate that I could not become a mother. His family punished me for this.
“How long will you stay in our house without having a child?” Without a child I was a servant and slave in the house of my in-laws. I wish that my husband’s family had respected me because I was his wife, but they did not. I served them and helped them all the time, but nobody cared.
In order to stay in my own house with them I said to myself, “I have to obey.” I washed their clothes, washed the dishes, and did everybody’s cleaning just to pass my days and nights, just to exist. For ten years I lived like this.
My husband had a good relationship with me. He told me, “I don’t need a child. You are a very good wife and you are nice to my family and tolerate them. It is okay for me not to have a child.”
But fate would again make me suffer; one day on his way back home from work he was killed in a car accident. I no longer would have him in my life.
After my husband’s sudden death, there was no reason to stay with my in-laws, but I had nowhere else to go. My parents were dead and I had no brothers to help me. My brother had gone to Iran to search for a better fortune, and we had not heard word of him since. We did not know if he lived or died. My one sister had died after I was married, leaving me with no close relatives at all. I lived with my in-laws for five years more. Every day I tolerated hardships and every day I had a warning and they would ask me why I still stayed there.
One day my brother-in-law told me that I would have to leave the house now. It was evening and I didn’t know what to do. Crying, I left and stayed one night with a friend. But I couldn’t live there. I had a relative in Mazar, so I called him and told him that I was homeless. I had nothing but the clothes that covered my body. My friend paid for my trip to go to Mazar, and now I live with my relative as a servant. I wash the clothes, cook, and clean. I live, but my life passes with such difficulty. I have no one close, no one who cares for me.
My relative has sent me to Kabul because I am sick. I have come to Kabul because of my high blood pressure and because of depression. I am depressed because of the life I have led and what I have suffered.
In Kabul they say that widows receive a lot of help. This may be true, but I have been here a week and I still need help. But they have bought me new clothes and I have enough food. I am happy here, but I will have to go back to Mazar. My relative called me and asked me if I will come or not because he will find another servant if I don’t.
I will go back.
I wish I had a son or a daughter to help me today. I wish I had a family to think about me. Everybody in this world has someone to take care of her, but I don’t have anyone. Maybe I didn’t deserve it. I pray to God and ask God to help me. I don’t ask God to kill me and I don’t kill myself because I know it is not right.
You asked me to tell you about my life. I don’t call it “problems.” I tolerate it. It is my fate.
Editor’s note: This story is from an oral interview with Shakila conducted as part of the March 2013 AWWP Oral Stories Project.