Hello, you don’t know me. Yet. But I know you. And hope that my story helps you know me enough to recognize me. I know I live far away. But if you look. You will see me. Or at least hear me.
It was in the early hours of the morning, when I was woken up by the sound of footsteps of several men making their way into the little clinic where my mom had just delivered my little sister. I saw from the window several scary looking men who were dressed in police uniforms. As I described them to my Mom who had been laying in one of the beds lifelessly and exhausted from having to go through 12 hours of painful and excruciating labor pain. She was startled when I told her that policemen were approaching the clinic. and as they were getting closer to get inside, she opened her eyes and handed me the swaddled baby and told me to run and hide. She said they had found us and sent the police to take us back. Before I could say another word, she yelled again and asked me to run and hide. So I did. The clinic was echoing with the cries of newly born babies that day. There must have been about 15 babies and their mommies. My little sister was sleeping as I hid in the back of the clinic Inside of a shed-like room, where they kept all the medical supplies. I didn’t turn on the light. I sat there praying that the police wouldn’t take us back to that house we had just escaped from three months ago. I knew they had found us. I bet it was that mean lady at the shelter home that told them where we were. How could she? After my mom told her what we had been going through for years, I mean years of turmoil and pain when we had finally found somewhere where we felt safe, they found us. By “they” I mean my father and his family. It wasn’t really my father, so much as it was his family. I sat there silently in the dark, holding my newly born little sister who was sound asleep. Until I was woken up to the sound of gunfire and screams coming from every which corner of earth.
I will never forget that day for as long as I live. What was supposed to have been a day to celebrate our freedom as well as the arrival of my little sister. Became the first day of a new life sentence and the end of any celebration. Yes it was the worst day of my life. What was I to do? Where was I to go? Who was I to trust? And how was I to raise a baby by myself? I was only thirteen years old, I thought. The questions were tormenting my thoughts that day. And I kept thinking about how we had just escaped from years of torture and misery, and finally when we were able to live, breathe and cry without having to be punished for it. The cycle repeats itself, all over again.
The shelter wasn’t all as bad really, we had only been there two months when mom went into labor and was brought to the clinic to deliver her baby. But those two months of living in the shelter were the happiest we had ever been, compared to living at home I mean. Well it was more a basement than a home. We lived there with the man my mom said was my father. It wasn’t even him at all who was mean, as much as it was his mom and sisters and brother who were evil. I can swear they weren’t human, they couldn’t have been, not with the way they would abuse my mother and I. And it wasn’t even physical abuse either, it was all kinds of abuse. The physical ones would pass and even heal most of the time. But the emotional and psychological abuse was what was horrific. It was so bad that it caused us to cry ourselves to sleep every night. It was rather painful how we cried ourselves to sleep while putting ointment on each other’s wounds. Mine were not nearly as bad as my mom’s. Because she would hold my face tight against her chest while holding me tightly in her arms. I could feel the pressure of each strike as she was getting the lashes from the long thin tree branch. I could feel it hitting her bones sometimes. My poor mom, she wasn’t allowed to cry either, she would bury her mouth on my shoulder while holding me tightly to Block the strikes from hitting me. I could also feel the vibration of echoes of her silent screams which she swallowed in agony and in pain. Letting out any sound would cause her to get beaten even more. The wait was rather tormenting and agonizing too, sometimes the pain was so horrific that she would hug me so tight that It caused me to pass out. Then when it was finally over. We both would just lay there, on the cold concrete ground of the basement, where we spent most of our days and nights. We laid there until one of us gained enough strength to help the other. Sometimes we would be so exhausted from the within held of our sighs and Cries that we would both fall asleep. Until we heard the vicious demonic voices calling for us. The voices that would wake up the dead and would give the deaf their sense of hearing.
My mom and I, we were only 13 years apart. I didn’t understand for the longest time what it meant when my grandma would refer to me as a Haraami, (bastard) it wasn’t until a few months ago when my mother explained to me what it meant. As if it was her fault. Her story is no different than mine, because she and her mom were working for some people and became my mom’s grandparents also, when both her and her mom were raped repeatedly. My mother’s mom couldn’t take the pain and abuse anymore so she hung herself. My mom found her hanging in the basement where we now live. She was only 10 years old. For the next two years she was doing all the work herself while grieving the loss of her mother. What a strong poor soul she was. By age 12 she found out she was pregnant with me. Oh by the way. My name is jamila. I am the daughter of a Hazara woman whose name I never learned. Neither did she I think. She too was conceived by her mom’s master when her mom was very young also.
Us Hazara descent, well let’s just say that we served no purpose in the world, aside being a servant or a side toy. That is all I knew my mother as being. I remember when I was very young, I used to look out the window and watched the little girls all dressed up in black and white dresses, leggings, with their hair nicely braided and cute head scarfs being walked to school. How I wished to be them. I never knew what it was to be in the outside world. Mom always said it was not a place for people of our kind. But I swear I had seen little girls who looked a lot like me being walked by moms who also looked like my mom and I. Except they had clean clothes on, and also shoes. I don’t mean Sandals, I mean shoes where your toes are covered and won’t turn blue in the winter when it gets really cold. My mom didn’t speak much. The worse thing about living in the basement was when my father or uncle would come down there and as soon as my mom heard their footsteps, she would ask me to run and hide. Outside the basement there was a little room where they kept food stocked, I would go there and stay there until my mom came and got me. She always looked like she had been crying and the next day she would have bruises all over her body and face. I don’t know why they would come down there, but whatever the reason was, my mom didn’t want me there when they came. I never asked her either. She did mention to me once, that soon, they will be coming expecting me to be there to serve them. I don’t know what or why they wanted to be served in that dark basement, but it couldn’t have been good. My mom also used to stay up during prayers and cry a lot. I never asked her why she cried. But she always said she wished I was a boy. I am starting to see why.
The light from outside the shed where I was hiding with my newborn sister was rather bright, the men who opened the door were dressed the same as those who were heading toward the clinic earlier, except these guys didn’t look as scary. They had a very disappointing expression on their faces. Maybe they were just mad at me for bringing my little sister in this dirty shed. Salam I said quietly, one of them smiled and asked what my name Was, “Fatima” in a whispering voice.it was getting louder by the minute, I could hear people screaming and crying. Everyone was running around in panic. “What happened” I asked, But I got nothing but puzzled facial expressions. A soldier walked up to me and took my sister from me and asked that I follow him, “Where is my mom” I asked the soldier. He said nothing and I walked out of the shed and started to follow him. It was a madhouse there. I felt my feet slipping as I walked through a pool of blood, I had no idea what was going on. All I could hear was the echoes of babies crying all at once and some women crying and screaming. Police sirens were coming from every corner also. Then in the corner of my eye I saw the green head scarf my mom had on when we came to the clinic. She looked so beautiful when she wore that, I turned my head slightly to get her attention and saw a young beautiful woman laying on the bare floor covered in her own blood. Her eyes were open but she wasn’t blinking. She had a smile on but her mouth was open kinda, I kept staring to see if she saw me, but she wasn’t even blinking. Then someone stood above her and with her hand gently stroked her Forehead downward with her hand. And removed her hand and mom closed her eyes. I am writing this from the basement where my mother was raped and I was conceived. One day. My daughter will be writing from this very spot. Please don’t ignore our silent cries. We are human just like you are. We just want to exist and be treated as human beings. This is my story. But what if? What if I was your daughter? What if your daughter was here instead? Would you still shed a tear or two and go about your business like how everyone here does? I will never see my mother or sister again. You will never see or meet me. But that doesn’t mean I will not be abused and raped and tortured. Please help us. If you can’t give me your hand. Then please. Give me your voice by speaking up! Give me your courage by standing up! Give me your strength by supporting me! And give me sight. By looking at me. Give me a chance to live. By fighting for me. . Look around. And see what’s happening to the world. Help us, help us, before our silent cries shatter the air into pieces
Fatima. Your daughter. Her Sister. Their Mother. Child Bride. A woman. That girl who’s alive, but will never have lived.