Learning to Read

She lives and works at one of HAWCA’s shelters for domestic abuse survivors. She cooks and cleans and never smiles. She cannot smile, because the acid her husband threw at her face has eaten away at her cheeks and jaw. It was to punish her, he said, for asking if their daughter Sima could go to school.

He still walks free, because his relatives have influence in the town. Afeeza, thrown out along with little Sima, found a home at the shelter. Lately she has begun to speak, shyly. Sima is learning to read and her mother, too, would like to learn to read. The HAWCA women have told her about doctors who might one day be able to rebuild her face. It is too much to dream for . . . yet she finds herself dreaming.

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