About the author: Nasrin Jamili is a Star alumna who recently completed Star’s Teacher’s Training course. She graduated from the English Faculty of Kabul University.
Not long ago, when I was a child of 11 or 12 years old, my father was sick. My elder brother, who knew that my father had cancer but did not tell others, took him to Pakistan for medical care at Agha Khan Hospital because there was no doctor or hospital left in Kabul to diagnose and prescribe my father with proper treatment and medicine. My brother borrowed some money from a bank as there was no one who was able to lend him such a great sum of money. They remained there for one and half months until the doctors let my father come home. During that time, all the home business was assigned to my engineer brother to manage the house while attending university full time.
In those sorrowful days, we were just waiting for my father to recover from his disease and come back home to us. One more trouble was added to our sorrows. There were many, many nights when we were awakened by the harsh sound of the window glass being broken by stones thrown from outside of our home. We were not comfortable and secure and, because of this and perhaps because they became aware of my father having cancer, most of our relatives and cousins came to stay at nights as a sign of sympathy.
One of the nights, I suddenly woke up by the screaming sound of my sisters and mother who were sleeping in the same room with me. Through a gleam, my eyes saw the clock. It was 1:30 in the heart of the night. My body started shivering and I could not move or talk as if all organs of my body had stopped working. I wanted to go to my mother but my legs were not in my control because of too much fear. Everything was dark and nothing could be seen clearly. In addition, there was a power cut. I heard my brother, who was with my cousin in the room next to ours, and our neighbors, who were living in the yard, run quickly to get some metal or iron tools to hold and defend themselves from a thief.
Meanwhile, the window hanging beside my bed pulled open and then a foot wearing jeans appeared over the frame of the window climbing up to the top of the house. Seeing that foot made my heart beat faster and I could feel my body raise to the highest temperature. The scream of my sisters made the thief climb up very quickly. Then, the sounds of his footsteps running on the rooftop made the ceiling quiver. As my brother saw and ran after him on the rooftop, the thief threw himself into the backyard and started to run toward the wall near the toilet where there was a pathway of an alley on the other side of the wall. My brother ran after him as he was climbing the wall and then another man appeared passing quickly beside my brother and in a moment, both of them were gone far away.
Now, the danger was over but we all were trembling, afraid of any objects such as walls, windows, and doors. Even the rooms were frightening and dark. They filled us with the fear of the thieves. My brother and cousin were trying to comfort us. Among all the fears and sorrows we suffered, I recognized a heartbreaking issue. It was the silence of our neighbors who surely could hear us but none of them decided to answer or come to help. We turned on a light and sat together in the yard talking to each other and trying to remove the fear. After moments passed, all of us wanted to go to bed feeling secure and thinking that the thieves were gone. Suddenly, we heard a noise from the other room where our neighbor, the one who was living with us in the same yard, that sounded as if he was fighting with someone. Once again, the fear revived. My brother ran toward the noise and saw that our neighbor was trying to capture one of the thieves who had been hiding behind their curtain. The thief pulled himself strongly from his hand and fled away from the window.
After that night, none of us would dare to go out of the house alone. Even in the light of the day, we needed each other to hold and did most of our household jobs together until that event was forgotten.