I myself am a mother now, so I want to pay tribute to my own mother, who I think is the best mother of all and I owe all my success in life to her.

When my mother was only seven days old she became engaged to my father. In her teenage years, when girls still played with dolls and enjoyed tree-swings in their courtyards, she was learning to cook and care for the home. She was fourteen when she married my father, who by then was in the 12th grade of high school.

This loss of her childhood is a regret of my mother’s. A second life-long regret is that she never went to school. She lived according to the strict traditions of a very large joint family and one can only wonder how she felt when she entered the threshold of adulthood.

My father is a doctor and when he found work in the Army Hospital in Kabul, Mom was at his side supporting all. She single handedly fulfilled all the responsibilities at home. By then she not only was looking after her own four boys and two girls, she cooked for my father’s guests and made the budget for the whole in-law family in their village. She did the budgeting because my father was the senior male in a joint family of 53 people and the only breadwinner.

My mother was a good budget official and she was able to save for the family in the village.

In those days there was no gas, no pressure cookers or washing machines, and all the domestic work was manual. Even the water tap was timed for release by the government. People had water two hours a day and would wait by the tap for the water to come so they could fill their water buckets to use that day.

Amid all the arduous work, she spared some time to make breadcrumbs to feed the sparrows and weave sweaters for us for the coming winter.

She barely rested. She didn’t know what “boredom” was. Today I get home from the office, tired and bored and on the weekends I try to take my kids to some picnic spot or a park. But my mother’s days were not like ours. She was so deep into the routine of the house there was no time to be bored.

In the absence of basic amenities, my mother had no choice but to work from sunrise to late at night. In scorching heat, she would sprinkle water on the lawn before placing wooden-cots woven with ropes for our beds. She would then set up mosquito nets over them to protect us. She arranged all of these in a straight line buffeted by one pedestal fan, hardly enough to keep mosquitoes away.

In winter, the only heat was from firewood or a charcoal stove. This meant that rest at night was not soothing. But in spite of facing so many physical hardships, she led and continues to lead a robust and happy life. When we were young, she enjoyed every moment with us and exulted in our academic results. She cared assiduously for our hearts and ensured that the boys did not mix with bad boys, and we girls did not mix with bad girls.

She has led a peaceful and contented life because of her fine character despite tragedies when she lost two young married brothers during an Afghan jihad. Because she is the senior sibling it was her task to remarry the widows to her other two brothers. The death of her own mother, whom she adored, was another tragedy for her. She was the only girl in a family with seven boys, now five.

She always taught me, as a good practicing Muslim, the value of honesty and truth, which she personally demonstrated through hard work. When I see the hardships suffered by my mother during her childhood and challenging home circumstances, her success as daughter, sister, wife, and mother makes me feel very much honored to be her daughter.

Due to her deep devotion and passion for blood relationships and an unrelenting tolerance to keep providing comforts to her dear ones, even at the cost of her own suffering, my mother, who is now 56, is an extraordinarily sacrificing woman.

She deserves this tribute as we celebrate the Day of the Afghan Woman on March 8.

By Saifora