21 Feb 2018
Writer: Lalaqa Shirin

Rewriting her life

The inspiring story of a child of drug addicts.
Roya was abandoned by first her mother and then her father. Fourteen years ago her mother walked out on her father. Later Murad, her drug addict father, was to leave her to live under Pol e Sukhta bridge, a notorious hangout for drug addicts in Kabul.
An addict herself, Roya was left alone in their home. Then circumstances forced her to move to Pol e Sukhta. But that changed her life. She was rescued, sent to a deaddiction camp and has recovered completely. Her testimony.
Roya was five when her drug addict mother left. "My father's relatives would not let my mother take me with her," she says.
With her father no longer careful not to smoke in front of his only child, the child Roya became a passive smoker and then an addict. "I could not live without opium and my father was unaware," she says. Now, Roya is an adult.
Years of addiction ruined her father's health; his body was a shell of his former self. "I was young, my body had resistance but my father had become an old man; his body smelt bad and when he could not afford to pay the rent on our home, staying under the Pol e Sukhta bridge was his only choice," she says.
Murad, who had started out as the owner of a small shop for food stuff, had to sell that and become a 'coolie' (headload worker). "As the weakness from drugs grew he turned to petty crime like pickpocketing to support his habit," Roya says.
In the end, he left to live under Pol e Sukhta bridge. "What I can say is that he should be blamed and not blamed. He chose to live in the world of Pol e Sukhta, among other drug addicts, a world of sorrow and sadness, and left me alone in our home."
For many months, Roya lay alone in a corner of their house. She did not expect her father to come back. "It looked like I would follow in his steps, which sadly is the fate of all addicts."
Everyone in their neighbourhood knew what had happened to them. "People living in my lane as well as my relatives all knew about me. My relatives would show up with leftover food. They would sit for a few minutes only, shake their heads and leave me," says Roya.
Speaking to Killid the young woman seemed often on the verge of tears. But she controlled herself and continued. "The mercy shown by my neighbours and relatives gradually petered out, and I would go hungry for days. When both my money and opium finished, my body became unbearably weak."
About the same time, the owners of the house lost patience, and wanted her to leave. Roya had no choice but to find a solution.
She says that after thinking a lot and consulting a neighbour she too went to Pol e Sukhta. "I chose the place where my father had died recently. I never saw his body, the police had taken it away to an unknown place," she says.
Hope blooms
But her life was about to change. The day she got to Pol e Sukhta, there was a police raid on addicts, and she was taken to a deaddiction centre. Twelve months of treatment transformed her life. "I feel like I have been born again," she says. Trained as a seamstress, she has opened a tailoring shop. 'Roya – tailoring for women', says the signboard hanging above her shop.


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