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Afghan family rebuilds their lives in West Bengal after Taliban crisis

Kolkata: Following two weeks of travel from Afghanistan to Kolkata, an Afghan family has now taken refuge in Howrah in West Bengal and is on their way to rebuilding their lives. Mohammed Khan and his two daughters, eight-year-old Malala and nine-year-old Pastana, have taken up residence in a new home and are supported by neighbors apart from the Afghan community in the state. Khan has lost his house in Kabul, his shop, his source of income, is a faraway dream, and now he has to start over in a new country that he calls home.

Mohammad Khan said that two-three weeks ago his family didn’t have a home. But now he has a lot of friends in the country who help him out; Indians also visit his home sometimes. Muhammad Khan and his two daughters, eight-year-old Malala and nine-year-old Pastana, have moved into a new home in West Bengal’s Howrah. Malala was traumatized after seeing the Taliban kill four people outside her home in her native country. In the wake of the trauma, Khan admitted Malala to a hospital in Kolkata two weeks ago with a refugee visa. Her fear gripped her even four days earlier. Khan says Malala is eating well and is feeling better now.

Khan said, ‘Now she is ok, but 4-5 days ago the situation wasn’t ok. She saw bloodshed. But she remembers my parents and asks when they will arrive. I told her they are in Delhi,’ he said. In the process of embracing her new life here, Malala will slowly forget the horror she experienced back home. ‘I’m happy here; I’ve made friends too. I used to think about my home situation in the past, but now I don’t,’ Malala said. While her sister, Pastana, has made new friends in her new home, she still remembers her friends back home. Pastana said,’ I feel better here; I have friends here. I keep moving from one house to another’.

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‘Pastana has made friends here and she has received many toys too from locals. But my parents are still remembering Afghanistan; they used to think about Afghanistan a lot before, not so much now. They are happy here,’ Khan said. The daughters dance to Pashto music as they move across the room to kiss the Afghan flag on the wall and pledge to remember their roots despite living in a new nation.



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