One letter from Salma was all I had received in five years, again I had been launched into limbo and I had no way of knowing whether she was alive. I was heartbroken, my work suffered and all my accounts had been frozen making travel impossible.
I often got told to marry Sadia, we had become good friends. It means so much to have someone share your pain. We both lived in the hope that one day soon our spouses would be returned to us.
Sadia was brave and courageous and even though she was yet to receive any information about Abdullah she continued to search for answers. The kids were growing up fast, they needed their dad but Sadia did an incredible job of providing for them and protecting them.
It is difficult for someone who has not experienced these circumstances to understand the trauma. There is a persistent heartbreak which with time becomes a physical ache. The extreme emotions we swing between and the everyday difficulties of operating a household without a bank accounts. Then there’s the isolation from your family and community, not to mention the rumours, the suspicion and the fear that people have of being associated with anything terror-related.
And just when you think that you are done, they police take you in again for interrogation. The humiliation is unbearable. This ‘War of Terror’ doesn’t just detain people it destroys families.
I write to Salma weekly, I can’t imagine being with anyone else.
I remember Paris fondly.