Twelve-year-old Mehdi witnessed the death of his mother during childbirth in the winter of 2007. The family lives in Shahristan District in the central province of Daykundi. Their village, like most in the province, is many hours away from any health facility. With his arm around the shoulders of his younger sister, Zahra, Mehdi told his story.
It was the month of Dalwa [early January]. I was having dinner with my father, my sister and my mother in the evening. The weather was so cold; it was the worst period of the winter and it was snowing as well.
My mother suddenly said she was feeling pain. My sister and I didn’t know she was expecting a baby. We started asking her questions about why she was feeling pain, but she wouldn’t answer. I asked her if she
needed a back massage, but she refused that as well.
My father went and fetched four women, some of our neighbors. They started asking her questions and my father told us to leave the room.
We were so worried about her, and we felt so cold too, but we were just thinking about our mother really, nothing else.
After some time, my father came out of the room and said he was going to find a vehicle to take my mother to hospital. He went out and returned after a few minutes, telling the women he couldn’t find a car as
the roads were all blocked to our village because of the heavy snowfall.
There was nothing else he could do. When my mother started screaming, we went into the room and started crying. Why was no one helping her to get relief from the pain? My father said we had to wait until morning
and then find a way to take her to a health care centre.
Minute by minute, her screaming became louder and louder. We were all sitting beside her. Her face was so red.
She carried on screaming until she died. No, she stopped screaming before she died, but she was breathing very loudly just before she died.
After she died, we cried a lot. We cried for five days because we had lost the dearest person in our life.
My mother died because we didn’t have a doctor in our village and the bad roads had been blocked by snow. I hate the snow. If it was not blocking the road my father would have been able to take her to the doctor. Now whenever winter comes I feel cold and when I see the snow I remember my mother’s death.
Interviewer: What happened to the baby, did she deliver it?
Mehdi: I don’t know, but my father said the baby was already dead.
Interviewer: Who are you living with now?
Mehdi: Six months after my mother died, my father married another woman in our village. Now we are four people at home again, but we two children don’t have our own mother. We always remember her, it’s
so difficult for me when I see other children, their mothers giving them money, sweets, or kissing them… I can’t stop crying. We still remember our mother and love her.