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The Killid Group
"I am proud of my wife!"Written by Mohammad Yaseen Yaseen in Paktika
Monday, 04 April 2011 09:05
He was 20 when he left his young wife and returned 47 years later only to see his aged spouse waiting for him.
"I migrated to India for work," 67-year-old Abdul Zahir, a resident of Yusufkhil District in the southeastern Paktika Province, told Killid about his extraordinary migration. "There were no job opportunities for me in Afghanistan and my intention was to earn money and return quickly."
As he reached India, it took him a long time to find a job and settle down in the world's second most populous country where unemployment rates were staggering. In 1960, when Zahir migrated, India was one of the poorest countries on earth but young rural Afghan men were travelling there in search of jobs, businesses and other economic opportunities.
He chose to live in Hayderabad State and rented a room in Dakhan area, which is known as a Pathan neighborhood, where he was selling clothes.
"47 years is a very long time and I faced tremendous problems while I was away from home. The most disturbing feeling is that I returned home empty-handed because I lost all my earnings in India," he said. Zahir did not specify exactly how he lost all the savings of his 47 years of work but only said that he turned "bankrupt".
Thousands of Afghan men and young boys particularly from Paktika, Patia, Khost and Ghazni provinces migrate to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, India and even Pakistan to earn their high wedding costs, dowries and improve their economic situation. High marriage expenses and dowries push vulnerable Afghan households into poverty and prompt other social hurdles, according to a report by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit which was released in late 2010. A Killid investigative report in March 2011 found out that tribal councils in several provinces were seeking to curb high marriage costs and put a reasonable limit to the dowries which are paid by the groom to the family of the bridegroom.
"I forgot other values"
"Once I was arrested on narcotics charges in India and it took me almost a year to clear the charges," said Zahir who vehemently denied drug addiction.
"I was entirely obsessed with making money and totally forgot about other values in my life," he said in a regretful tone adding that it was his greed for wealth that ruined his own and his wife's life.
"Throughout the 47 years, I prepared to return to home on numerous occasions but was delayed for unforeseen reasons. Sometimes I would say, let's finish this job and make the final profit and return and sometimes I would fall sick."
Zahir was 14 when he married a girl younger than himself. It was an arranged marriage decided by his father who was a well-respected tribal elder. He spent six years with his bride, which were the most happy years of his youth-hood, and the couple made two daughters. Upon his return, Zahir found that both his daughters had already married and that he was the grandfather of several grandchildren.
While Zahir was abroad earning money, his wife was at home taking care of the household affairs and looking after her children. The Killid reporter was not allowed to interview the woman who spent 47 years of her life lingering for her husband. As per the local traditions, she could not abandon her in-laws and marry another man. She was always reminded that her husband had gone abroad for work and that he would return home with money to make their life better. There were no communication means between the couple for decades as there was no telephone facilities in Paktika and also because both Zahir and his wife cannot read and write.
"I am very grateful to my wife who spent the best time of her life waiting for me - I am proud of her," Zahir said about his wife. "I really regret what I did to my wife but there is nothing I can compensate her lost life. If I were a young guy again, I would never travel abroad and would stay in my village no matter how poor I might be." Obviously, Zahir's regrets cannot heal all the problems his wife suffered during his absence. Traditions and customs, particularly in rural parts of the country, are sometimes major causes of women's rights violations but the victims lack access to legal and social protections services, according to human rights organizations.
Zahir says he tells his unfortunate experience to other young men in his village and warns them about the risks of migration.
Ironically, Zahir blames war, poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan for his miseries. "If there were peace and jobs in our country why would I had gone to India to earn a living?"
In Afghanistan the war started subsequent to the Soviet invasion in 1979 but Zahir had migrated in early 1960s. When reminded that the war started long after his migration, Zahir only said that he was poor and wanted to earn money in India. While Zahir regrets his decision to migrate for almost half a century, his wife mourns a life which was ruined by her husband's mistakes. As I conclude Zahir's life story, a Pashto proverb comes into my mind which can be translated into English as: "Earning a life at home is far better than away."
Saturday, 07 April 2012 06:37 |
neemaat hassan khan khawazak
HI this is neemaat from london for higher education and i will back to my country and i will never travel to abrod i miss my family too much so i request you people the enjoy every moment of your life with your family really then you will miss them too much. special thanks to Mohmmad Yaseen
Saturday, 07 April 2012 06:35 |
this is so touchy and heartbreaking story. I can only imagine how hard that would be for a wife to spend her all young-hood waiting to her husband.
Saturday, 07 April 2012 06:35 |
I would say that is all due to lack of knowledge. Selfish and stubborn culture.