Dr. Maryam and Her Patients

图片取自 My Own Sense of Civilization

  With the Taliban in power, doctors in Kabul could once again go to work without the fear of roket attacks, but the female doctors——those who hadn't fled the country when the Taliban took Kabul——faced an entire new set of problems. The Taliban had ordered hospitals, like every other institution, to be segregated by gender, with women physicians restricted to treating female patients and working in female-only wards. They were not allowed to work with——let alone consult——their female colleagues. Foreign aid organization were still wrestling with the question of how much support to offer to the Taliban, particularly given their policies toward women, so help had been slow to reach the nation's hospitals. As a results, doctors and surgeons regularly worked without even the basics such as clean water, bandages, and antiseptics. Anesthesia was a luxury. Along with most other woman in Kabul, Malika now had no choice but to seek treatment from one of the very few women doctors who had chosen to remain in the capital. Dr. Maryam, like many other of her colleageas, ran a private clinic in addition to her hospital work in order to support the family.

  Malika arrived at the doctor's office early and for good reason: within thirty minutes, a crowd of women had filled the austere waiting room, with many standing against the walls holding infants in their arms. Demand for Dr. Maryam's services had grown so great in the last few months she had hired an assistant who handed out a numbered piece of paper to each woman as she entered the office. Malika waited patiently for her number to be called. She fixed her gaze on the peeling paint that curled along the old walls; she prayed for the twins' health and wondered how she would pay for whatever medicine they might need for their latest affliction.

  Stepping into the treatment room at last, Malika kissed the doctor hello and stepped aside as she could begin the examination. Dr. Maryam's specialty was pediatrics, and in her presence the worried mother felt her shoulders slacken and her jaw unclench for the first time in hours. The doctor examined first one baby, then the other, with a natural confidence that came from decades of experience. As a child, Dr. Maryam had dreamt of becoming a doctor, and her parents, neither of whom had any formal education, wokred relentlessly to help their daughter realize her goal. She left her rural village for college at the start of Russian occupation, and the local Mujahideen came to Maryam's father to complain that his daughter was attending Kabul University's medical school. They suggested, rifles in hand, thay a Soviet-backed school was no place for a respectable girl, and that her family must be full of sympathizers who supported the Russian invaders. In response her father made a deal: he would supply them with as much wheat as they wanted, at no charge, if they would leave his daughter alone to continue her studies. He ended up having to sell much of his family's farmland to finance Maryam's university education, but he never complained; the Mujahideen got their wheat and his daughter got her medical degree.

  After completing her studies. Dr. Maryam worked for more than a decade in Kabul Women's Hospital and eventually rose to a senior position supervising its new doctors. At the same time she raised two children with her husband, a scientist by training who now owned a pharmacy not far from her clinic in Khair Khana.

  Once the Taliban arrived, of course, everything changed. the new government installed its own men inside the hospital and charged them with overseeing everything that went on. The regularly burst into the women's ward to make certain that no men were present and that female doctors remained veiled while treating the sick who had come to see them. Tall in stature with a self-assured, almost regal bearing, Maryam could not easily abide being told what she could or couldn't do when it came to caring for her patients, and she found it impossible to keep her feelings to herself. She chafed at the new restrictions and voiced her frustration to her colleagues, one of whom informed upon her. Senior Taliban officials didn't kindly to be questioned by anyone, let alone a woman, and Dr. Maryam was now regularly watched by the government's soldiers; they monitored her every move.

  Despite these difficulties, Maryam maintained a schedule that impressed even Malika and Kamila. Each day she worked from 8 A.M. until 1 P.M. at the hospital before returning to Khair Khana to treat patients at her clinic, sometimes staying well into the night to see the very last woman who needed her care. Like Kamila and her sisters, she refused to turn any woman away. Most of her patients suffered from malnutrition because they couldn't afford to buy food. But depression was also running rampant, debilitating former teachers, lawyers, and civil servants who now feel powerless and full of despair, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Many of them turned to Dr. Maryam for advice and comfort, as well as the opportunity to escape their homes.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, P142~145
Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe
Gayle Tzemach Lemmom
ISBN 978-0-06-173237-9



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