In the Daykundi province in the center of Afghanistan lived a woman named Rahima who had three sons and a beautiful daughter. Each day she kneaded bread in the early morning for fifteen people in the family, then went out to feed grass to the animals before coming back to cook the bread before the others awakened.
While the family was rising, she milked the cow and worked in the home until lunch. In the afternoon she carried grass from the mountains to feed the animals, and then worked alone into the night.
She lived like sheep sent out to the wolves every day, punished without reason by her husband, Qurban, and by the elders of the family. After the farming, with no energy left to defend herself, she was beaten by her husband and elders of the family. The pain of the events transferred to her mind and in later years she lost her mind and became crazy.
But losing her mind was not the end of Rahima’s story. Her husband gave her beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter named Feroza in marriage to a boy named Reza who had a cleft mouth. In return, Qurban received Reza’s sister to be his new wife.
Qurban’s sisters favored the new wife for Qurban so they could push Rahima off the roof where she sometimes sat, taking in the view. Rahima died. Although it was rumored that her husband’s family killed her, there was no clear evidence.
Young Feroza’s life was even worse. By age thirty she had given birth to two daughters with the same birth deformity as their father. Pregnant for a third time, she worked till 10 o’clock in the mountains alone and then died in childbirth that day.
Now Feroza’s daughters are giving birth to children with the birth defect. This means that after one or two children, they will be rejected by their new husbands and sent to live in their fathers’ homes.
Rahima, Feroza, and Feroza’s daughters and granddaughters are blameless. Yet they are locked in a cursed life with no way out. They are angels, but for them, they have no feathers to fly, no feet to escape.
Photo by Emma LeBeau
First published here: http://awwproject.org/2013/10/the-marriage-tradeoff/