There is no greater sorrow than the loss of one’s mother
NOWSHERA, 9 March, 2018: Engulfed by loneliness in a dark room, Yagmur is watching raindrops run down the window – but he cannot listen to the relaxing sound of the rain as he is hearing and speaking-impaired.
His mother Qurban (which means sacrifice) named him Yagmur – meaning ‘Rain’. The 38-year-old Yagmur is emotionally drained and tired. The intensity of his pain appears unbearable after he lost his 72-year-old mother – his only companion in life.
The pair fled Balkh province in early 80’s when war broke out in Afghanistan. They escaped Afghanistan with just a bundle of clothes on their backs and reached the safety of one of the UNHCR-managed camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The UN refugee agency has helped millions of uprooted Afghan refugees since 1979 by giving them shelter, food and other facilities. Currently, 1.4 Afghan refugees are residing in Pakistan.
Qurban also had two daughters – but they died of measles a few years before the family fled Afghanistan. Her husband died around the same time in Kabul from tuberculosis.
Two years ago, when UNHCR staff met the family at the Turkman refugee village, Yagmur’s mother was completely immobile and her son had to help her into a cart that he made from wood – serving as a rudimentary wheel-chair.
Qurban was also deaf and had been paralyzed by a stroke she suffered ten years ago.
Yaghmur spent his entire life taking care of his ailing mother, like she took care of him when he was a child. He did everything for her – washing her, feeding her and changing her clothes.
His only dream in life was to get a fridge so that he could prepare food and keep it fresh for his mother so that he did not have to come home multiple times each day from the brickmaking factory he was working at.
“Everything has changed. She is no more amongst us,” Yagmur said with the help of hand gestures and facial expression during a recent visit form UNHCR staff after the death of his mother.
With tears rolling down his cheeks, he quickly grabbed his phone and displayed her mother’s picture. Yagmur’s fellow villager and a friend, Khan Mohammad understands the sign language and they both use the same medium to communicate with people. She died a month ago. It was a cold and dark night.
“I can’t sleep because I miss her. When the pain is unbearable, I go to her grave in the middle of the night and talk to my mother and trying find solace,” he said.
Now he is running his small shop in front of his house as he left the brickmaking factory. He repairs motorcycle tyres and earn three dollars a day. He is uncertain about his future.
“My mother was confined to one room, but she was alive and she was my hope,” he said, adding he got the fridge and wheelchair but she was no longer here.
Yagmur is not sure he will be able to marry and start a family. He cannot afford to pay the USD 17,000. Turkman tradition dictates that men who marry must pay between USD 15,000 to 20,000 USD to the parents of the bride. As he is disabled, it may cost him more.
It was still raining, Yagmur wipes his tears away and looked at the sky. “My mother will be at peace now,” he said.
Qaiser Khan Afridi in Nowshera