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Forgiving cruelty

    Sometimes I wonder how someone can become so cruel to take someone else’s comfort away. There should be something behind cruelty. Everything happens for a reason but human cruelty must have multiple reasons.

    I still remember being attacked for a few materially worthless things, but those things were all I had at the time. I was trying to prepare for the kankor examination, to receive university education, and to ensure what people call ‘a bright future’ for me, and serve those who were deprived of the basic right of education. I had big dreams. And sometimes a big dream can be like a death sentence, especially for girls; and even more so for girls coming from a poor and needy family.

    One day on the way back home, a man showed up in the middle of the street. When he saw I was alone and there was no one else in the street, he approached me. “Give me your bag and your phone!” he commanded.

    I was so afraid that I couldn’t talk; I didn’t want to give him my bag. I had few personal things, a small amount of money, and a Kankor book inside it. I didn’t want to give up the book in particular. The book was like the key to my future. He slapped me in the face and I fell on the ground. I shouted for help but no one heard my voice.

    He took my bag and ran away. He disappeared within seconds. My face was covered with blood. I went back home filled with sadness and disappointment. It was the worst day of my life. After that incident, I didn’t want to go to school alone. My friends accompanied me from home to school and back.

    I was always thinking about the incident and asking myself questions. Why did this man mug me? What was his problem? Why did he take my exam book? He might have had some financial problems. Perhaps he might have been under pressure from his family. That I understood, because we were also poor, but most items in my bag had no monetary value.

    I continued to live with these questions until my 12th year at school. I was expressing my feelings in writing and drawing cartoons. That was the only way I could overcome my fear and reaching my goal. I took the Kankor exam and secured a place at the Dari language and literature department. Beside my studies I continued writing and drawing cartoons in my free time.

    In the second year of my university, I saw the same man in a shop. He was now running a shop in downtown Kabul. When I looked at his face, I felt scared and thought he might attack me again if he saw me. My curiosity didn’t let me give up on him. I wanted to know the reason for his action.

    I finally went to him and told him everything. He was afraid and thought I would call the police. I told him I didn’t want to call the police or anyone, but I just wanted to know why he had attacked me. He told me that he was too needy and didn’t know what else to do.


    “Women are weak and afraid of men,” he said he had thought at the time. “They would give up anything to save their lives. That was why I attacked you.”

    He apologized. I accepted his apology because I understood. It was clear that he did that for a reason.