Editor’s note: This story was produced in partnership with Rukhshana Media and is part of The Fuller Project’s ongoing series, “Ending America’s Forever War: What is next for Afghan women?”, documenting what the end of America’s longest war on foreign soil means for the women who have lived through it. Follow The Fuller Project’s continuing coverage here.
Four years ago, on one of the hottest summer days, while I was sick and an IV was attached to my hand, I answered my ringing phone with my left hand.
“You’ve been admitted to the Fine Arts Faculty of Kabul University,” my sister shouted happily over the phone.
This year, once again, while my blood pressure was low and while I was waiting in a queue to withdraw cash from the bank, my phone rang.
“Go home because the Taliban have taken over Kabul, and they have released their prisoners,” my sister said in a trembling voice.
I held my younger sister’s hand and tried to take a route with no traffic.
We couldn’t get a car to take us home.
My sisters and I joined two other women who were also waiting for transportation. Finally, one vehicle picked up the four of us. On the way, the driver had an argument with the two women. “The Taliban are here after you,” he said in a happy tone.
When we reached home, our parents were anxiously waiting for us at the gate. I took refuge in an empty room so that my parents would not witness my hopelessness and tears. The only thing that occupied my mind at that time was the story of women who burned themselves in the previous regime of the Taliban. I was thinking about all the stories I had heard and read, the stories of girls who preferred death over life under the Taliban.
I asked myself if the Taliban’s regime is repeated, will I survive?
I was only two months away from my graduation. When there was still hope for the republic government, I tried to study for those two remaining months with motivation and thinking about a bright future.
But everything fell apart in one week, and my hope for a bright future was buried under layers of despair. I am domesticated now.
Staying home is like a prison with minutes and hours moving very slowly.
Your days feel longer and then days pass and repeat after each other to the point that weekdays lose their meaning. It no longer matters whether it is a Monday or Wednesday because I spend both days at home.
A young and cheerful woman who would go to university every day and worked hard for a better future is now weeping at home every morning. I know that these days, many Afghan women are mourning their identities, just like I do. After 20 years of struggle, our worst nightmare as women has turned into reality. I am imprisoned at home for fear of the Taliban.
I have only participated in one demonstration since the Taliban took over Kabul.
I went out and shouted for freedom while my voice was trembling. I was there while the Taliban’s sound of bullets and whips was much louder than our women’s trembling voices. When I got home after the demonstration, I tremble thinking that the Taliban had arrived with every doorbell ringing.
All I do these days is follow the news.
I check Afghan media, searching for verified and reliable news but it seems as though the news has nothing to offer us except for misery and pain.
Nil (pseudonym) 23, is a senior student at the School of Fine Arts in Afghanistan. Translation by Sahar Fetrat.