April 3, 2012
Living in post-Taliban Afghanistan
by Rukhsana Khan
After the death of his wife, Jameela's father decides to seek a better life in Kabul. But being an opium addict, his decisions are often bad. They move in with another family, where Jameela is treated like a slave. When they're forced to leave, Jameela's father suddenly remarries. But her stepmother dislikes her and gets Jameela's father to abandon her in the marketplace. She ends up living in an orphanage.
Though Jameela is afraid and helpless at first, she longs for more - an education and a fix to cure a cleft lip. At the orphanage, she learns to read, becomes more assertive, and gains a measure of strength to make her own decisions. With the memories of Mor (her mother), the kindness of strangers, and her religious faith, she is able to overcome tragedy without bitterness.
A depressing story, yet the ending provides a slight measure of hope.