Creative Writing – 127 – Comprehension Exercise

Creative Writing – 127

Comprehension Exercise

Comprehension exercise of moderate difficulty

Question Passage taken from NYT

In July, 2001, Zarmina Faqeer, a sixteen-year-old Afghan refugee living in the Pakistani border town of Peshawar, learned that the BBC radio soap opera “New House, New Life” was seeking an actress for one of its lead roles. Faqeer, who was compact and scrappy, had little interest in fame. “It wasn’t about the glamour,” she told me recently. “It was the salary.” Her family had fled Afghanistan on foot in 1985, when she was six months old, during the Soviet occupation; her father, a wheat farmer, carried her over the snowy Hindu Kush mountains to safety. He found work in Peshawar as a security guard, and his wife had five more children. He died in 1995, and the family moved into a single room in the children’s school. Now, six years later, Faqeer had got a job as a middle-school teacher to support her family, earning about five dollars a month. An actress, she thought, had to make more than that.


1. What information reached Zarmina Faqueer in July, 2001 that changed her life?
2. What was her motivation to apply for the job?
3. Describe how and why she came to Peshawar from Afghanistan.
4. After her father’s demise in 1995, how did her family survive?


1. Zarmina Faqueer got to know that BBC was looking for an actress to work in their radio soap opera ‘New House, New Life’. The actress had to play the lead role.

2. Zarmeena was living with her widowed mother and five siblings in a single room in a school premises. In her low-paying teacher’s job, she found the grinding poverty too hard to bear. So, she was driven to seek a better job.

3. Soon after the Soviet invasion in 1995, her father, a wheat grower, fled his home and came to live in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar as a refugee. Zarmeena, a six-moth-old baby then was carried by her father in his back. He crossed the Hindu Kush mountains on foot to reach Peshawar.

4. Zarmeena worked as a children’s teacher there with a meagre salary of $5 per month. With such a low income, she struggled to make both ends meet. She sensed an opportunity to better her life if she could get herself selected by BBC for the role. assumed that she could land the job.

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