SHIBERGHAN (Pajhwok): Twin deaf sisters, who have suffered immensely because of war, say they would welcome the Taliban with bouquets of flowers and hail them as brothers if the Taliban renounce violence and join the peace process.
Fatima Koklam and Zahra Koklam are the twin sisters who have lost their hearing ability to a rocket that struck the yard of their house 22 years back. The intensity of the explosion ruptured their eardrums. As a result, they went deaf.
This Pajhwok Afghan News reporter interviewed the two at the Women Affairs Department of northern Jawzjan province.
Munira Koklam, their sister who served as a translator for them, said before the rocket attack, Fatima, and Zahra were able to hear and speak. After the incident, however, they were deprived of the ability to hear. With time, they also went dumb.
Due to the loss of the hearing ability, the twin sisters became socially secluded and suffered immense stress. Aged 8, they were enrolled in a special learning course. After that course, the two sisters were enrolled in a local school.
After graduating from the Khadija Jawzjani High School, Fatima and Zahra got admission to the Matanat Higher Education Institute.
Munira said the rocket attack had left a negative impact on the lives of her sisters in terms of their future decision on marriage, raising families or looking for jobs.
However, both have been determined to measure up to the challenges posed by life. They firmly believe in banishing war and establishing peace in their benighted homeland.
Feelings of the sisters were expressed in sign language by Munira, who recalled that their father — an Afghan National Army worker — was killed 10 years back in a fight with the Taliban.
They sew bags and stitch clothes to eke out a living and meet their expenses. They have a mother and four sisters living in Shiberghan, the capital of Jawzjan.
Both students of the Science Faculty, Fatima and Zahra hope for peace and stability in the country, so they could go to far-flung areas of Jawzjan and teach the sign language.
Fatima said: “I wish people live in peace. I hope that peace will return one day. I will create special schools for people who cannot speak and hear. They will be able to learn sign language and will feel themselves an integral part of society. They will go to school and rise in life.”
Despite being in learning process themselves, the sisters have arranged some classes for the deaf in Shiberghan, where they taught students voluntarily.
According to Fatima, when a person cannot hear or speak, it is difficult for them to live happily. With this in mind, they are teaching their students sign language for free.
“I hate war because I have an unpleasant memory of it. In childhood, my sister and I lost the ability to hear due to a rocket fired into our house by the Taliban,” she recalled.
Zahra was strictly observing the signs her sister made and at times she approved of them by shaking her head.
Like Fatima, Zahra also shone a light on the problems they went through. “We both lost the ability to hear. Our father was killed in fighting with Taliban and we are living a difficult life.”
Zahra linked prosperity of the Afghans to the restoration peace. “If Taliban reconcile with the government, we will welcome them with bouquets of flowers. We will thank and call them our brothers.”
At the end of her comments, she asked the Taliban: “I want to ask why are you fighting and what benefits have you reaped from war? People being killed on both sides are brothers and why a brother should be killed,” she questioned.
Zahra and Fatima hope to get married but in peace and tranquility so that their children do not fall victims to conflict and insecurity.
Munira said her sisters wanted to marry educated men, who would help them continue their social activities without hurdles.
“The important thing is that our future partners should have sound minds so that they see things through the lens of humanity,” they remarked.
This report has been produced by Pajhwok and financially supported by UNDP and Denmark.