A child slept every day at the grave of his deceased parents, and when they learned the reason, they began to cry.
Navid lived with his parents in a small, poor community that had been plagued by famine and war all his life. However, they had some how, managed to survive and supported each other as neighbors to get by together. They all felt like family, even though they shared no blood ties and felt safe. But it was not always easy to deal with hunger, especially when the wounded and sickness were on the rise after a bombing or an armed confrontation. Getting food was becoming increasingly difficult, and although no one was capable of attacking their neighbor to steal their supplies, in reality they had not yet reached the deepest point of their desperation.
That was the moment they all feared because they knew that anything could happen and there were no rules. When there was nothing to eat and their children were starving, any parent would go to great lengths to keep them safe, no matter how friendly everyone in the community was. They felt that they were one big family, but in the end it was each other’s children who were the most important and who they would put above all else.
At that time, Navid was three years old, and his sister, whom they had named Nora, had just been born. By that time, everyone knew that the crisis was imminent and that at any moment what they feared so much could happen. But the deterioration was slower than they expected, and in fact, the whole community was in a slow agony that lasted almost four years. It was then that everything exploded, and when the crisis was at its worst, Naved and Nora’s parents left early one morning on a mission to get food for their children, but they never returned. The next day, Naved learned that his parents had been killed in a raid they had planned together with other neighbors on a nearby town.
But the people of that village were already prepared and killed them all. In his community, there were many children left without parents and very few adults, and those few were going to take care of the others. Therefore, everyone had to get by as best as they could. Naveen, who was seven years old, had to take care of his four year old sister and had no idea what he was going to do. All he knew was that they didn’t have time to mourn their parents.
If they wanted to survive, she knew they would have wanted them to be strong and together would find a way to make it through. But they were children, and even though they started their journey together to an aunt and uncle’s house in another town, they sought his help, and Naved had thought that he could work to earn food for himself and his sister. He couldn’t stop the tears from running down his cheeks. They were alone, and no one had prepared them for that. It wasn’t fair that an absurd war had left so many children orphaned.
Their parents had been buried unceremoniously in the village, and they were going to at the request of her sister, who would be the one to receive the children at home. But from the first day, things did not go well there. They also had a child to feed, and as time went on, the more it bothered her aunt and husband to have to give a little less food to their son to share with two children they barely knew. And although Naved had been confident that they would be taken care of there and that his sister could grow up in a halfway normal environment, a month later they were alone again. Their aunt and uncle had opened their doors and invited them to leave, as they could no longer afford to feed them.
Their life was an ordeal every day, and although Naved would go to great lengths, he would never manage to get enough for his little sister to eat well. And since he couldn’t give them as much food as he wanted, he tried to compensate with games and stories, tried to make Nora forget everything else. And so the little girl loved him and already knew that he did everything for her. At night, before going to sleep. She was the one who offered him words of comfort, telling him everything there was when all that nightmare would be over, where they would go, what they would eat and what they would study, and all the dreams that a girl who was losing her childhood in the middle of the war could have.
But one day Nora started to get sick and Naved disappeared. I knew the girl was malnourished and there was nothing I could do. The food shortage was getting worse, and people were dying in the streets, especially young children. It was then that Naved, seeking himself unable to save his sister, started to go every day to take a nap by his parents grave, trying to find comfort, solace, and support, or simply because he wanted to dream that he had not lost them and that the four of them were still together, safe and sound. But when he woke up a couple of hours later and went back to the shelter he had built for his sister, he found her getting worse and worse and felt that she had no more strength, that she could not help.
Crying and begging for help, he would walk the streets asking for help, and people had already noticed that he was lying between the grave of his parents. But in reality, no one knew that the boy also had a sister who was dying. When a volunteer doctor was finally able to check on Nora. It was too late. The child was too weak and had only a few hours to live.
She spent her last minutes in Naved’s arms and left with a smile on her lips after telling her brother that he would have to be strong, that she was going to join her parents, and that they would protect him, not to worry anymore. But after Nora’s death, Navid improvised a grave for her next to his parents and spent most of the day there. He began to eat dirt and plants that he did not know were poisonous and to drink water of dubious origin. But there was nothing else, and he understood that only a miracle could save his life. People were still dying in the streets, but he still had hope, and he kept them only because his sister had asked him to, because she had told him that he had to be strong several days past, and Naveed had already begun to slowly agonize.
The only strength he had left in his body was that of his love for the family he had lost. And although he did not want to die, the prospect of being reunited with his sister and parents comforted his heart. He was suffering, but at the same time he kept thinking that maybe it was not yet his time, that he still had time to live, and he did not know how. But something inside him also told him that somehow he would survive. And he was not wrong, because early one morning he did not wake up next to the grave of his loved ones, but in a hospital bed.
The war was over. It had left too much malnutrition and pain, but it was finally over, and Naved would now receive the care to survive and regain his strength, and the faces of the doctors and nurses gave him such peace and confidence that only when they asked him why he was among the graves, he was able to speak and told them his whole story. And even though they had already heard too many painful stories, they could not help crying. Naved talked about his parents, but it was hearing him talk about Nora that moved them the most. Naved’s story proves that despite everything, when you are patient, there is reward.
It took a long time before all his suffering was rewarded, and it was true that after all he had lost nothing could hurt him that much anymore. But he also knew that the best way to honor his parents and sister was to strive to live the best life possible, to live what they had not been able to, and to wait for the time to be reunited with them, to tell them everything from heaven. His family continued to motivate Naved every day, especially his little sister, who had departed when they had many dreams to fulfill, dreams that she had shared with him before she died, and that she had assumed as his own. So he dedicated all the time that he could to fulfill them so that wherever he was now, he would be happy. And it is that all his life, every night when he looked at the stars, Naved saw her smile.
She was always his greatest motivation and to her he dedicated all his achievements which were many because after that second chance that life had already given him, Naved did not stop until he found fulfillment.