two children in winter

Editor’s note: This is a true story of an Afghan family that sought asylum last year.

The wind blew Jamila’s black and white hair out from her old scarf in the bitter cold. She could not believe the scene she saw in the snowy road. She was confused, lost, and broken.

At about forty Jamila was not old, but the difficulties she had faced during her life made her seem much older. Unable to get an education due to war and conflict, she married while still a teenager and gave birth to four children. Despite a hard life in a small village, Jamila was happy with Nadir, her husband, and their children. She tried hard to overcome their problems and be happy with so little. 

But the situation in the village had become more and more intolerable. Every day there were struggles and clashes. The villagers could not go outside. Finally, Jamila and her husband decided they must leave. First they went to the city, but there was no security there either. Out shopping one day, Nadir was caught in a bomb explosion and badly injured. He was hospitalized for a week.

After that incident, the family decided to leave Afghanistan. In 2012, they sold their few possessions and headed to Pakistan to cross the border. 

On the way they faced many problems, but they reached the border. Crossing illegally, they entered the country but lost what little money they had, putting them in an even worse condition. The children were hungry and crying for food. They were too tired to walk further so Nadir put them all under a tree and told them to wait and he would return. Jamila sat on the ground and took her youngest son in her arms and put half of her scarf on him and waited.

The weather was cold and snowy. Jamila could not remember how long she stayed by the tree. Her other three children were crying from hunger and the cold. She could barely hear them. She felt stuck to the earth and frozen. She could not think; she felt even her thoughts were frozen. Suddenly, hearing her son’s voice and his coughing, she came to herself.  She moved and stood up.

Everywhere was covered by white snow and in the far distance she saw her husband coming. She kept watching.

As he came nearer, suddenly a car came along the frozen street and crashed into him. As if in a nightmare Jamila watched as Nadir fell onto the snowy road. She left her son on the ground and she ran.

When she approached, she saw her husband covered in blood. He would not live. Jamila could not feel anything then. The wind was blowing, distributing her black and white hair coming out from her old scarf. She could hardly hear her children’s voices and their crying. 

By Farida

Photo: Omar Sobhani /Reuters