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I have two 61-year-old mothers.

My Tajik mother is the woman who give birth to me. My American mother is the woman who hosted me when I lived in the United States.

And although they were born in the same year, my two mothers have lived remarkably different lives.

My Tajik mother was born when the Soviet Union was trying to revive its economy after the devastation of World War II. Her childhood was full of pain. Like other schoolgirls, when she began school at the age of seven, she also had to work in the fields to help with the harvest. She was told she was building communism. After finishing school, she lived in the village for two more years before marrying my father.

The life story of my American mother, Julia Shermon, couldn't be more different.

By the time that my Tajik mother had two children, Julia was studying chemistry and biology at Hartford College and was enjoying the life of a university student. On weekends, she visited Boston with her fiance.

When Julia married she was 27 years old. By the time my Tajik mother was 27, she already had four children.

Julia eventually had two children: a boy and a girl. My mother in Tajikistan, following the orders of the Communist Party, gave birth to 12 children so she could qualify for "Hero Mother" status. She devoted her life to her 12 children.

In 1970, when Julia bought a car and was enjoying trips to the seaside, my mother was traveling by donkey to visit her ailing mother.
Mumim with Julia Shermon

Now my Tajik mother is retired and receives a symbolic pension. She begins her days working in the yard. She does not know a lot about her children, who live in the neighboring village. In the evening she prays for several hours, asking God to save her children.

My American mother still teaches high school biology. Her husband died five years ago and she has not seen her children for five years. But nevertheless every evening she communicates with them through the Internet. On Sundays she goes to church to pray for world peace.

But despite their differences, both of my mothers are very sensitive women. Julia cries for hours when she listens to news about the death of American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan and attends peaceful antiwar demonstrations.

My mother in Tajikistan cries for hours when she hears about the death of Tajik migrant laborers in Russia. She tells her children not to go to Russia until the time comes when skinheads stop killing innocent people.

Long live both my mothers.

-- Mumin Ahmadi

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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