The Story of Mah Jan (Mother)

Victims’ Names: Abdul Rafi and Abdul Wahid

Date of Incident: 1997 and 1998

Place of Incident: Kabul

I am Mah Jan. During the war, I have lost two sons, my husband, my brother-in-law, and a few cousins. We were first living in Chehil Sutun in Kabul and then were displaced to Logar and Khair Khana. I had not seen my older son, Abdul Rafi, for three years when in 1997, I was told to go to Logar to see him. I was taken to a cemetery and informed that he was buried there. I could not afford to transfer his body to another graveyard, so I accepted that he remained there. He was only nineteen years old.

Later, I returned to Chehil Sutun because I loved my home there. Nothing was left, even the doors and windows had been taken, so we started living in a house without any doors or windows. The war had intensified and there were checkpoints everywhere, these were maned by the same people who looted the houses. We had lost everything so my younger son, Abdul Wahid had to start working in a shop and at times he would collect food from the trash cans and bring it home for us to eat. I also worked in other people’s homes as a cleaner and care taker and did all kinds of work to support my family.

One day during Taliban, I was cleaning my home in the afternoon when a rocket landed close-by. I was worried about Abdul Wahid because I had just sent him out to buy something. A few minutes later, my neighbor ran in and told me that he had been injured and that I should go to the hospital. I saw my older son on the street and told him that Abdul Rafi had been injured. He began to cry and the two of us went to the hospital in Allauddin. As we entered the main corridor of the hospital, I saw a dead body. I stopped and uncovered his face and recognized him by the shoes placed under his head. I cleaned his blood with my Chadari (Burka) and brought him home. I cried that entire night. I lost him when he was only sixteen, just a year after losing my older son.

Two months later, my brother-in-law was killed in Ghazni where he was working. My husband had to bury his sons and brother. He would go and cry over their graves every now and then until he got paralyzed. Our economic situation had further deteriorated. In his last days, I swear to God that we had nothing to eat. Once, I cleaned the flour bag and prepared some bread for him. I mixed it with oil and fed him. For six years, I took care of my paralyzed husband, washed him regularly and fed him until he died. I had now lost two of my sons, my husband, and my brother-in-law and then I married my third son off, he also disappeared with his family. I never saw him again. Just three people are left in our home now, my son, my daughter, and myself. My son owns a shop and works hard every day to feed us.

I don’t have much left behind from my sons except an old shoe from the older one which is very valuable to me. I have also kept his hat. I wouldn’t be lying if I told you that one of my sons did not even have proper clothing when he was killed. I bought seven meters of fabric to make him clothes for covering his body which I took everywhere but no one agreed sew it. His clothes were full of blood so when they carried his body, he was totally naked.


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