In a village in Bamiyan province, there lived a woman named Nikbakht who had two sons, ages twenty and twenty-three.

Nikbakht had enough money to support herself, but having two other adults in the house was a strain on her budget and her time. Her sons ate her food and expected her to cook and clean for them. The two young men did not do any chores or contribute any money to the household, even though both had jobs. In short, they were mama’s boys. 

Nikbakht grew tired of the situation. One day she realized she had had enough and that her sons should be living on their own. She told them over dinner. 

“It is time for you two to take responsibility,” she said. “You can’t live with me anymore. I’m not going to cook for you. I’m not going to clean for you. You need to grow up and get your own house!”

The boys were very upset. They complained. “You are a terrible mom,” they told her. “How can you do this? We are your children. It is not fair.” They ranted for days. But Nikbakht did not budge.

“You have one month to find your own house,” she said. “No more whining. Just do it.”

The next day when the boys came to the kitchen for breakfast, they found no food had been prepared. Nikbakht refused to cook for them. “You have jobs,” she said. “Get your own food and make it yourself.”

The boys could not believe it.

The scene was repeated every day for weeks. The boys began to lose weight because they would not cook for themselves. Finally, on the twenty-eighth day, they went out to look for another place to live and found a two-room house for 4000 Afghanis a month. They signed a one-year lease and rushed home to tell their mother.

They were very excited because it was their first house. “We did it. We found a house, we will move in tomorrow,” they told their mother.

“Inshallah!” Nikbakht said. “I’m really proud of you. You are finally becoming independent.”

The next day, the two boys moved in. They began having parties at their house every night. They were very happy. Nikbakht was also happy because her boys were finally growing up and becoming successful.

Nikbakht pushed her sons to take control of their lives, and they did. This was a bold move for an Afghan woman. One day, I hope all women will be as strong and powerful and as good a mother to their children as Nikbakht. 

By Amina

Photo by Phil Borges; graphics by Blatman Design