۵۵-year-old Mah Gul with grayish hair and a wrinkled face, recalls her life as a woman who has a scar from each war in the past four decades in Afghanistan.
Mah Gul got married when she was only 13 years old. A few years later in the 1980s, when she was a mother of two, she found her husband dead. He was killed in the war between Soviet army and the Mujahedeen.
She was only 18 with two children and no supporters. Young Mah Gul found herself in a dilemma when she was forced to make a decision between remaining a widow and seeing her children starve or remarry and gave them up because her in-laws would not let her keep her children if she remarries someone else.
After three years of resistance, she gave up and remarried. This time, she married a Mujahedeen commander in Samangan.
After a year, she was informed that her daughter whom she left at the care of her ex-in-laws, was dead. With excruciating pain, she went to bury her daughter beside her father.
From her second marriage, she became a mother of five, but again, the war didn’t let her live a normal life. The Taliban who started fighting against the Mujahedeen arrested her husband. This was the second time that war halted her life.
After a week, her husband returned home—badly beaten and partially paralyzed. Then, she received the news that the Taliban had killed her brother.
She felt as the earth was crumbling under her feet. She had to deal with the pain of losing her brother and finding a way to feed her children.
Mah Gul and her children find a job as farmers and gardeners in the garden of a village elite, working twice as hard to make their living.
As time went by, slowly her wounds were healing. With the collapse of the Taliban and the establishment of a new government, her children got their chance of going to school.
As Mah Gul was aging, her children were grown up. Her son, who saw how her mother worked non-stop for the past twenty years to feed her family, joined the Afghan National Army to offer her mother some time off. Her eldest daughter who graduated from school found a job as a teacher for a NGO that provided literacy classes for women and children.
When the war between the Taliban and the Afghan government intensified, Mah Gul urged her son to leave the army, because she couldn’t bear another loss. He returned home, but suddenly he became very ill. He dies at home before Mah Gul can understand what his illness was.
But she still had her daughter who could provide for her paralyzed father, old mother, and her little siblings.
After Samangan province fell to the Taliban, her daughter lost her job which was paying her $80 USD per month.
Now, she says all the darkness returned to her small, muddy house and she no longer has the energy and ability to work as before to feed her family.