Select Page

Mahsah’s Story told by her daughter Sara

by | Dec 10, 2020

A woman is a beautiful and delicate creature and she should be taken into consideration and set free to try and build her own way and life.

I am Sara and I am seventeen years old, but I am growing up because I will be eighteen years old in a few days …

I was born and raised in a country where women are not very important …

In my opinion, a woman is a beautiful and delicate creature and she should be taken into consideration and set free to try and build her own way and life.

A woman can make everything the best.

Women are the pulse of life; they make everything beautiful.

I am a girl, but in my life, I have never seen beauty in myself or around me.

I want to write a summary of my mother’s life. Sometimes she says, “Write my memories so that I do not forget.”


My mother was born in Bamyan, Afghanistan and emigrated to Iran with her family when she was 5 years old. She was never sent to school and was employed in farms and orchards when she was eight years old and started working as a child.

This is how she remembers:

If one day I got sick or tired and wanted to not go to work, my father would beat me, and I would have to endure hunger all day.

I used to see girls going to school in beautiful clothes and new shoes, but I never had new shoes, I always wore my sister’s or neighbors’ old shoes.

I had three sisters and two brothers who also worked.

Time passed and I was sixteen years old when I grew up.

One day when I came home, I saw a man in the yard, but I did not know who he was. After the man left, I asked my mother about him.

She replied: He is your suitor and you will get married next week. I objected and said I did not want to get married, but my father started beating me. I was like a piece of meat under his arms and legs, I ran away. I wanted to throw myself out of the window into the next yard, but I did not know there were sheets of iron under my feet …

I fell on them and the soles of my feet were torn, but it did not matter to anyone. After two weeks when my feet got better, I married the same man …


The man in the yard …

I did not even know his name …

I was afraid of him, I did not know him, he was much older than me, maybe ten years older or maybe more, his name was Reza.

After a few days, Reza said that we should return to Afghanistan and live there. I did not want to leave, I did not want to be separated from my family, but I was not able to oppose him …

We went to the Afghan city of Baghlan

The city that set my life on fire …

The government and local groups were at war, and a number were killed every day.

I would gather wood and make fire and cook food with it, fetch water from the river and wash clothes and dishes. Reza built people’s houses.

A few months later I found out I was pregnant. I was in a weird mood. I was both happy and sad.

I said to myself, it’s good that I’m not alone anymore, someone comes who loves me and I can be happy with my child. But I was still upset because I was bringing an innocent person to the hell that I live in.

Days passed and my stomach got bigger and bigger, but Reza’s behavior was getting worse every day. He didn’t even look at me anymore. I gave birth to my child with the help of neighbors. She was a girl … a little angel …

I named her Sara …

Sara grew up. Sometimes she complained about everything. My other daughters grew up. I did not want them to be forced to marry someone they do not like and then their fate would be the same as mine.

Reza used to come home and pay attention to the girls. I was surprised.

And that scared me. My daughters were worried. They said that they did not like their father’s looks … One day my little daughter came to me crying. She said that her father wanted to show her his naked body …

I talked to Reza and he beat me and said that he wanted to enjoy his daughters … All my children were scared …

Reza knocked me to the ground and told me You are like a monkey, I hate you … My daughter Sara screamed and wanted to stop him, but Reza also beat her.

I was tired. I had enough. I was already destroyed. And now it was my children’s turn … I did not want to let them suffer my fate …

Reza wanted to go to the Mazar for a few days. I went to his brother’s house and asked him to call my father. It was the first time in several years that I wanted to talk to my father … He had been the cause of all my misfortunes … 

They called him and I talked to him about all my problems and events and I wanted him to save us …

My father was sorry and told me to call him the next day and he would get ready to take me back to Iran …

The next day, Reza went to the Mazar and I went to his brother’s house with my children. I called my father. He had talked to a smuggler. We had to take a bus to Kabul at night. We went to Kabul. The man was waiting for us at the station. He saw me and my children. He came quickly and said: “We are going tonight”. We boarded another bus and headed for Nimroz, a town near the Afghan – Iranian border. Several people were riding in a car together. We were all sitting on top of each other.

We travelled across the plains and the mountains for seven days and nights, and finally I reached my father’s house …


Everything had changed, I saw my sisters and brothers …

The children were surprised at seeing their families …

I saw myself in the mirror for the first time, the same mirror I used when I was little and used when I combed my hair when I was single. But the person inside was no longer me. I was now a woman with white hair, blinded eyes, broken teeth and wrinkled skin … Who was she?  I no longer knew myself, my heart ached as if I had been waiting for all these years to admit that I was in pain, now I had reached a safe place and was screaming …

I went to the doctor and they told me your heart valve is open and you need surgery.

I went to the ophthalmologist and they said,” due to your eye injury, you can no longer see anything, and you have to have surgery …”

I went to the dentist and they said we need to rebuild your teeth and beautify them …

But all this would cost a lot. I first had to find a job to rent a house for myself, but what could I do? I was neither literate nor skilled …

I had to go to the farm and pick tomatoes and eggplant like I did when I was a kid.

A few months later, after our return to Iran, I was so relieved. But one day, suddenly, our peace was broken when my brother came and said that my husband had come and wanted to bring us back …

Fear filled my whole body. My father talked to my brothers and they decided to send us to Turkey.

We left two days later. We were on our way for a week and we arrived in Istanbul, but because we did not have legal documents, the police arrested us and imprisoned us. We were in a prison cell for a week and then they said they would separate us – they would take my eldest son to another prison. My daughters were holding their brother’s hand tightly, and I was holding on to my son’s leg and begging them not to separate us. My son was only eleven years old and he was crying, thinking he would be killed. They beat my daughters and dragged them to the ground.

I grabbed my son’s legs and pleaded, but they ignored me and separated him from me. They took us to a prison in Istanbul, Salim Pasha Prison –  a treacherous place

I did not know where it was. I cried every day and night and asked them to find my son, but the police made fun of me.

I could not eat anymore, I could not sleep, I did not know where my son was …

One day I fainted from crying so loudly, I could only hear Sara screaming.

When I opened my eyes, I was in a room on the floor with the doctor by my side. They said it was a heart attack and I might die ….


They played in the house of love and did things.

After a while, I realized that I was pregnant. I was going to bring another creature into this hell …

Months passed and Reza was getting worse with me every day …

My daughter was born, I named her Venus …

My husband never hugged the girls and did not want them … 

Every day his new wife asked him to divorce me. One day when I filed for divorce, my husband hit me on the head with a small stove. When I opened my eyes, I heard voices. They were talking. His wife was asking him “What can we do now, you killed her?”.

And my husband said “I will throw her in the well and take her children to the orphanage, and no one will know”.

I quickly got up and hugged my children and said to them “I do not want anything, just do not separate me from my children, do whatever you want”.

A few months had passed since that incident. He was arguing with his new wife. One day he kicked me out of the house. I was cast out onto the plains with my children until night. When we returned, Reza was not there. He had burned his new wife’s face and body.

I felt sorry for the girl, I put a little cream on her wounds. She was not to blame. 

Her family made her miserable.

Two weeks passed, one day when Reza went to Kabul, his wife packed her things and ran away from home …

When Reza came back, he followed her but did not find her. I later found out that her father had sent her to another country …

How good it was to be saved …

I got pregnant again. God gave me a daughter again. Now I have three daughters …

Sara, Venus, Nora …

I had three little angels to take care of. I used to graze sheep in the plains during the day and make fires and cook at night. My daughters played at home.

Reza went out during the day and sometimes came back at night …

My fourth child was born, he was a boy. I thought maybe having a son would make Reza treat me and his children better, but he did not change, he did not consider them his own children.

I was taking care of my children, it was time for them to go to school, but Reza would not let them and said that the girls should not study. Sometimes I would send them to the mosque to learn something without him noticing. 

I became pregnant with my fifth child.

I thought to myself, I’m like a reproductive machine. I’m not feeling feminine, I’m not like women. My face was sun burned and my hands were wrinkled. My clothes were torn and old. I had not seen myself in the mirror for years. I used to have colored eyes and now I did not know who I was.

The fifth child was born.

Reza’s behavior had gotten worse and worse, he beat me every night and every night.

I got tired one day. He had gone to his relatives’ house. I wanted to leave there and go to another city. Maybe someone could be found to help me. I prepared my children and we set off. We had not even boarded the bus when I saw Reza with his brothers. He was coming towards me.

He took me back home, he beat me so hard that night, I thought my bones were broken.

He hit me on the head with a big stone. The whole world revolved around me. I fainted. When I opened my eyes, I saw that I had fallen to the ground. My whole body was covered in blood and my children were crying around me.


The translators came to me in the prison and I explained that I wanted my son. The doctor asked the prison authorities to cooperate. They called my son’s prison and I was able to talk to him. He said that he was given a meal during the day and that he was somewhere. We were still in Salim Pasha Prison. When we were released, I got my son’s prison address, and I called another family I knew who lived in Turkey and asked them to take my youngest children to their home ….

Sara and I went there. It was Friday and we arrived late. They said you should come on Monday, but I knew they were lying.

The air was cold and full of dogs everywhere. My daughter was scared. The soldiers were looking at us.

We went into the city and asked some Turkish people to let me and Sara sit in their courtyard until dawn for safety, but no one would let us. Finally, I saw an Afghan boy. I told him our story and he said that he works in a restaurant. He let us sit there. We stayed there until morning. We went to the prison during the day and went to that restaurant at night. Then Monday came. I was waiting in front of the prison. They brought my son to me from afar.

I hugged him so tightly. We waited a few hours, and finally they released my son.

When finally we got back to the restauran, they said “You have to take a house for yourself, we can no longer keep you”.

I went to the park with my children. I did not know anyone …

I saw some Afghans in the park and asked them how to get a house and documents. They explained. We slept in the park that night. The next day I went to the immigration office and applied for asylum, but they told me registration was finished and the UN was no longer working … I went back to the park.

I had some money and bought some bread with that and a SIM card.

I called my father and explained. My father told me to rent a house … I was looking for a house for a few days, but because I did not have legal documents, they did not give me a house, and some people who agreed demanded several times more money than the price of rent …

We had been sleeping in the park for two weeks.

One night my father called and said, “Your husband knows you are in Turkey and he is following you”. He told me “You have to go to Greece”.

The police kept coming and warning us to leave. Several other families were in the park. They said “There is a beach a little further away where the police do not come”. We all went there …

We slept on that beach at night and wandered during the day. Finally, the smuggler called and found us. He put us all in the car with thirty other people.

We would go to the border and take a boat. We were on the water for twenty minutes each time.

And then the police would arrest us. Then the police would take money from us and release us … The smuggler would come after us and take us to the dormitory again. We would wait a few more days and get ready again and get on the boat and the police would arrest us again … Whenever the police would arrest us they would beat everyone with sticks and ropes.

We went back to the dormitory and waited and after a few weeks we moved again … We ran in the forest for a few hours in the dark of night and then we got on a boat and after six hours we reached the island of Lesbos.

We were tired, we were all walking in the gardens and streets. The Greek police came and stopped us, then a bus came and took us to Moria Refugee Camp

I thought our problems were over but this was just the beginning of new problems …


In Moria they gave me a tent, so small that even my children could not sleep in it. Most people had built wooden huts for themselves, but I had no one to build a house for me … It was cold and it was raining, under the tent, water was gathering and I did not know what to do ..

Some of the boys I met on the way saw my condition and said, “We will build a hut for you”. They started building it and it took two days and then we had our own cottage. I thanked them with my whole heart. I will never forget them. My children slept in the hut and I cooked the food that the camp gave us with wood. But the hut was in the forest, at night I could not see anywhere, it was dark everywhere, and I fell to the ground every night and was hurt.

Sara had learned a little English and talked to the authorities and asked them for a better place. Finally, after a month, they gave us an Isobox and I gave my cottage to another family …

We shared a home with another family. At first, they were fine, but then they started harassing us little by little.

I tried not to talk to them and not care.

Sara went to language classes every day and then she taught English to small children in a small school …

The rest of my kids went to immigrant-built schools and learned English.

It had been a few months since we arrived on the island. My health had worsened. The doctors could not do anything. Some nights I endured the pain until morning and cried.

Nobody did anything for anyone.

Our neighbor had three sons, and they beat my little boy every day. One night they tore my son’s clothes and grabbed his neck.

Sara argued with the man and said, “You are older and you have to teach the children right and wrong …” The man attacked Sara and pulled her hair and beat her. I wanted to stop him, but my heart started shaking and I fell to the ground and I could not do anything.

People gathered but did not help. After a few minutes, the police came, and our neighbor fled. The police went without helping us.

After the police left, our neighbor returned with several other men and attacked my children. That night, I saw death with my own eyes.

A few people stopped them, my children were looking for my pills, then we went to the camp police station, but they laughed at us and kicked us out. We were on the street when Sara fainted. They took her to the doctor. The doctors wanted to transfer us to another camp, so the officers transferred us to Kara Tepe camp. Kara Tepe was better than Moria. There was no one to bother us. 

Now I sit in the dormitory and sometimes I walk …

The children go to school and learn English, Greek and Maths …

After a while, Moria caught fire and the people were displaced. They slept in the streets. We sent them food, clothes and blankets, but we were not allowed to leave the camp because of the virus.

After we had lived there for a few months, they said they would give us a passport, so we registered and waited …

My life has stopped but I am happy that I was able to save myself and my children, now they can study and have a job in the future, they can marry someone they love, they can breathe, and no one can force them …

I lost my youth, but I have guaranteed the future of my children.

They motivated me to end my misery …

I see my daughters, they are beautiful and wise, they laugh and run in the street, no one can stop them. Now I am waiting to reach my main destination, to have a house where I can rest and find myself again. I want to see myself in the mirror. I want to greet the new Mahsah and love her. I want to be a woman. I want to wear beautiful and new clothes. I want to comb my hair and leave it open. I want to be healed. I want to laugh out loud and say I am a woman. I am beautiful and I am free …


With warmest thanks to Sara for writing her mother, Mahsah’s story and sharing it with us readers.

Share this blog post...