Manijha is a housewife in Kabul.

When I was a child, in winter we would have a sandaly where we would sit around a table with coals burning, and listen to stories that our grandfather, grandmother, aunts, and uncles told. When they came for a visit we used to insist that they tell us stories.

They told us many different stories such the epic story of “Chehel Dokhtaraan”: The Forty Girls in Uruzgan and Bozak Chini—the story about the goat and the wolf. We learned many things about kindnesses and bravery from the stories.

Now I am a housewife and I have seen the kindness of a mother’s love from my own mother and my family. If you study a mother’s kindness, you will see that the mother is the one who established wonderful ties of compassion. But if you don’t also have your father’s love, you may be led astray.

If there is no love from your brother or sister or a friend, you will have no way to solve your problems. It is possible to make a simple problem into a big one.

But my mother’s love is unique and my father is a very gentle man. Possibly there are no parents in the world who would have given me as much love as my Mom and Dad.

Life has both happiness and sorrow. The only time we can make a life full of happiness is to grow empathy. When two people are arguing, we have to show them love is precious.

God is merciful and I believe that humans should be merciful, as well. With lots of love, one can forgive.

Although there is joy and gladness in an Afghan woman’s life, there is sorrow and unhappiness as well.

There are women who have been challenged with so many different cruelties. For instance, having a man pull out their fingernails or some of the other savage things that men do to poor women. A cruel husband destroys the good life for a woman. One of our neighbor’s husband makes her stand outside in the heavy rain while he beats her. The children are too young to say anything. The father is very cruel and he would hit them as well.

Compassion is something between the wife and husband. If there is true kindness between them, youngsters will grow up in a good way. A mother with sympathy can forget about the mistakes and she can easily forgive.

When a society is headed towards development, there is a need for love and kindness. If you see love in small societies, such as a family, then you could have a society full of love. A family is a small community, a place where children grow and learn to become part of the bigger community.

Love and friendship are some of the first skills that teach us about the standards of life and how to solve many problems.

By Manijha as told to Ragina

This work was sponsored by the Fetzer Institute.