The Abandoned Family


There was young girl in Kabul who was born into a poor family. The family didn’t have the means for her to attend school and when she was sixteen they married her to a boy from a good family who worked as a baker.

After a few years living with him, it became clear to the girl that this baker was not a good person: he was a burglar. One day, the husband left his family and disappeared. Nobody knew where he went. By now the young woman had children. The children were sad, so when they asked their mother where their father went she told them he had gone to work to earn money for them.

As they had no one to help them, the neighbors sometimes shared their food with the young family. The children’s eyes were always on the door, waiting for someone to knock and give them food. But after two troubled and unstable years, their father came home again!

The family was very excited. The children were so happy to see their father. He stayed home for a time, but then he disappeared again. The young woman looked for her husband every day on the streets, but she could not find him. Finally she gave her oldest daughter to her husband’s mother to feed and they moved in with her mother’s family.

Then one day when she was walking to the bazaar, she saw someone as she waited to cross the street. She gazed, thinking maybe she was mistaken, but it was her husband.  She bravely crossed the street and took her husband’s hand. People stared, but she brought the father home to the children.

They were very happy that they had found their father again and their family grew bigger when two more daughters were born. Their lives improved; they thought sorrow was finished. No one knew that old habits don’t change and that their father would break their hearts again.

The family was astonished. It was three years ago that he left and it wasn’t easy for them to lose their happiness again, but this time the situation was worse because their hero—their mother—became sick. With no money to pay the doctor, she became weaker and weaker and eight months ago, the children lost their mother. Now they are orphans.

Everyone cried when they heard about their mother. The world wept with the youngest sweet daughters who were four and six years old. Everyone could see their sorrow on their faces. Now the two girls ask, “Where did my mom go? Has she become a star? I will never see her. Please don’t touch my mother’s clothes—don’t put them away—they are my mother’s clothes.”

My mother told me this story about a family she knows in Kabul. She wanted the world to know.

By Nelab

Photo: Xinhua/Ahmad Massoud


  1. Nancy Antle says:

    Nelab — So happy to see your well written,but sad story on the blog. I hope that there are family members who can still take care of the youngest girls and make sure they have enough to eat. Thank you for writing this and letting the world know for your mother and for these poor children themselves. Nancy

  2. Heart-breaking story. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Holding back tears, Nelab. Thinking about the girls and their mother’s clothes. That moment the mother grabbed the father’s hand. The children staring at the door, hoping that a knock would come, and so would food. You do an excellent job telling us this heartbreaking story. I believe the mother is a star, has always been one. I pray for safety and happiness for her children left behind.


  4. Dear Nelab,
    I am particularly moved by the last paragraph when the children wondered if their mother had become a star. I am so glad you were able to transcribe this story for your mother and share it with so many. Keep writing, Nelab. I’d like to read more!
    The very best of wishes to you,

  5. Thank you Nelab for writing this story. It was filled with so many poignant images that really brought the story alive and into my heart. I’m saddened and amazed that the father could keep leaving them when the children were so overjoyed to their father around. The scene where the mother crossed the road and silently took his hand showed her strength and gentleness so well. I hope both you and your mother are proud of writing this story.
    Keep writing,

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