I am from a small village near Mazari Sharif. My father told me a lot about Tehran to make me excited about emigrating to Iran. He described big bazaars, clothing stores, parks and restaurants. But I have seen none of these.
I miss our village, our little farm, my cow, and how sometimes snow falls on the trees when they are already covered in blossoms during the spring.
My father tells me there is no COVID-19 in our village. He also asks me if Iranians treat us badly. Frankly, how would I know – I haven’t been outside.
I dream of finding a friend and going to school. I dream of discovering the bread store in the neighbourhood all by myself. Rahim tells me there is one.
Mrs Nowzari* is an old woman and one of the residents in our building. She lives alone and also doesn’t go outside. Her children don’t visit her because they fear they might pass the virus on to her. Rahim does her daily shopping.
Lately, she and I have become friends. We walk in the yard together and talk about plants, trees and flowers. I know a lot about gardening – much more than she does, and more than Rahim too, I’m sure. We play a little game we came up with to fill the silence between us: finding plants in the yard whose names are pronounced the same for us. For example, there is a flower that she calls “abshar e tala” (golden waterfall) – so fancy! I call it “nastaran”. We both like the “anjir” (fig) tree; it’s the same in her Farsi and my Farsi.
* Names have been changed.
[As told to Shima Vezvaei]
Iran was one of the epicentres of COVID-19 earlier in the year. But its infection rate peaked at the end of March and has been declining since then, in part because of a brief lockdown and physical distancing rules.
More than 2.5 million Afghan migrants live in Iran with very little opportunity of getting Iranian citizenship. During the first few weeks of the pandemic, there were reports of Afghans being denied treatment or being charged extremely high rates. In early April, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani issued a decree that medical services for coronavirus should be free, including for foreigners and refugees. But some people are still being charged. Iran is easing the restrictions on movement in Tehran and other cities, and Golnaz will soon be able to leave her home.
This story is part of our Humans of COVID-19 project: lifting up voices from across the world that are not being heard during this crisis. Click here for more of their stories.
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