The Story of Nargis (Wife)

– Victim’s Name: Sakhidad Hedayat

– Place of Incident: Kabul

– Date of Incident: 11 November 2000

“My name is Nargis and I am 40 years old. I live in Kabul. When we still lived in Bamyan – the province I am originally from – we had a decent life, as my father-in-law had land and property. My husband Sakhidad, also known by the name of Hedayat, was the only son in his family. When the Taliban attacked Bamyan, they looted our property and we were displaced to Kabul.

In May 2000, the Taliban arrested my husband in Kabul. After four days, we learned that he had been detained at Intelligence Department No. 11, but we were not given permission to see him. He was later transferred to Department No. 6, where he was detained for six months.

One day, my cousin brought me a letter Hedayat sent through the International Committee of the Red Cross. It informed us that he was still alive, and we now knew that he was held captive at Department No. 3.

After a great deal of effort and paying a huge sum of money, I was allowed to see my husband. From then on, every two weeks, my youngest son and I visited Hedayat in prison. He gave me little gifts for the children every time.

Hedayat was detained at Department No. 3 for four months. We were told that he would be released in exchange for 350,000 Afghani (around $4,500). I sold our house in Bamyan. I borrowed money from my brother and from relatives. After paying the authorities, I was promised that Hedayat would be released the following Sunday. However, several Sundays passed and my husband was not released. After 40 days, I went to Department No. 3 again and asked the Taliban security guards, if Hedayat would be released that day. They asked me to wait at the gate. Shortly after, the gate was opened. A body was brought out on a floor cushion with a blanket. I thought that someone had fainted, but it was Hedayat’s body. I began to scream and curse at everyone around, and threw off my chadari (headscarf). I was completely out of my mind.

I ran around like a mad person until I found a taxi, and took my husband home. I asked my brother to call for a doctor, to check if Hedayat might still be alive. But he replied that there was no need for a doctor, saying Hedayat had been dead for a long time. He had been brutally tortured. We buried him in Tap-e Shuhada.

When my husband died, he was 33 years old, and I was 28. I had nothing to feed my children with, as I sold everything I owned to pay for the release of Hedayat. I have five children. My eldest son was only 10 years old at the time, and the youngest was 8 months old. We had a very hard life after my husband’s death. No one helped us. We lived in a tent, as no one was willing to rent to a widowed woman.

Today, no one listens to our stories of sufferings. I voted for Karzai hoping he would help the victims’ families, but he has done nothing for millions of victims across the country. I also voted for parliamentary elections, hoping that members of the parliament could do something for us. But they have done nothing, except passing a general amnesty law which is granting amnesty to all war criminals. No official has ever asked us about our problems or listened to us.

My husband’s most valuable legacy are his five children. The most significant object that he left us is his blanket. It is the same blanket with which we covered his coffin. Another important object to us is the letter that he sent from prison, as well as some gifts for the children. Most importantly to me is the veil that he gave me for our wedding ceremony. Finally, there are some photos and clothes of him that help me to always remember him.

I have included these objects in my Memory Box to make my husband’s memory live on forever. I want to share his story with the wider public. I also hope that in the future, the government will use these objects to build a museum for war victims. It will help the people of Afghanistan and the world to become aware of the pain and suffering our county and its innocents have endured, and to finally learn how to live in peace.”

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