Samsama Sirat has written this narration of Kabul collapse to Taliban hands and homelessness for women and immigration column.
Maternity leave was over. It had been a month and a half since I had returned to work. The news was worse and more worrying than ever. Every day, without exception, several districts fell. Women were deprived of their basic rights in Taliban-held areas. Life was more bitter to me than ever. I was reporting on speeches by government officials. During the writing of the report, I cursed several times, “Cursed be all this deception, lying, and betrayal.” I asked myself what would happen? I argued with my husband every day, and my last sentence was this, “Look, the Taliban will take over Kabul in a month or two.” “These thieves’ authorities and Americans do not care about anyone’s life.”
Days passed the same. Sometimes I talked to my husband about immigrating. That we should move to a safe place, where my daughter feels safe, studies calmly, and does not experience the hardships I experienced. Of course, the threats that my husband and I received, directly and indirectly, were on the other side.
Life had become more difficult. The Taliban had taken control of the neighboring provinces of Kabul, and I was reporting on the status of war. The fear of angry men, warriors, and enemies of women’s freedom had increased. Darkness was everywhere. My baby was asleep. The night was passing. My husband and I looked out over the balcony of our apartment and talked about the good old days. The days when we were happy and lived. The days when we were not worried about the university being banned for our sisters. It was past three o’clock at night and we were still grieving and hatred was squeezing our throats. The night was unforgettable. Kabul was silent and in great sorrow. I have never seen my city so sad. The next morning, Life went on and we had to get to the work and plans we had. My husband had to go to the office and me to the bank.
I left my daughter with my husband’s sister. I left the house. There was chaos everywhere. I went to the two bank branches where I had to withdraw money, it was too crowded. People came to withdraw their money, But there was no money.
The turmoil was getting worse by the minute. It was 11:30 in the morning. “The Taliban have arrived in Kabul,” the phrase was rumored among the people in terror. All the people left the bank in a hurry, the numbers were running and I was just trying to see what was going on. Did the Taliban come to Kabul? I checked news websites, Facebook, Twitter; “Ghani left Afghanistan”, “Ghani will send a message until the next moment”, “Taliban entered Kabul”, “Americans arrested Ghani”, “News of Ghani’s escape is a lie”, “President Ghani will resign today “and… news contradicted. The bank was closed and I was on the road. I saw people, especially women who did not wear long clothes or hijabs, confused and even crying and just wanting to go home as soon as possible. I walked home.
I had arrived home and this news had been published: “The news of Ashraf Ghani’s escape was confirmed”, “The Americans took control of Kabul International Airport”, “The Taliban entered Kabul”.
I hugged my daughter and cried. The future was dark. There was no hope. days passed. We were upset. Sometimes I would go to the streets of Kabul with a burqa to find out the situation. The city I loved was dead. Many, including me, had only one glimmer of hope: to leave the country. Thousands risked their lives and the lives of their children, gathering around Kabul International Airport; But thousands more like me were waiting for messages and calls to flee the country.
The evacuation process was over; We could not leave the country. We were still among those who had repeatedly sentenced us to death. Our lives were in danger, and my daughter’s life and future were in danger. I emailed every day with concern to our American boss, texting and asking, “Where is their commitment to the safety of our lives?”
Around seven o’clock in the evening on the seventeenth of September, I received a message that I must be ready tomorrow at five o’clock in the morning. Finally, on September 18, my husband, my daughter, and I left the city I loved, the land where I was born and lived for 27 years.
It’s December 21st and I’m in the United States. I wandered in the camps for three months. I still do not have a home. I live in a friend’s house. I have to start from zero. Make new dreams, buy clothes, buy a bed, buy three glasses, three plates, and a few forks. I have to build a house. But I wish that was all the suffering; This is not suffering at all. There are greater sufferings. Sufferings that cannot be described. Away from the homeland, away from mother and father. Depriving my daughter of the affection of relatives.
I do not write about the suffering of the stateless because I was even stateless in my homeland. I felt alienated. Many were at loggerheads with me. Prejudice and humiliation are not new to me.
I am safe here. I am sure of my daughter’s good future. There is no air pollution. People are kind; Although sometimes fanatical and arrogant. There is work. But I wish I was there. In my homeland. My place of birth. Where the air is polluted, where I could stand firm for my right to discrimination and injustice. Where it was a city of love for me, where I had many aspirations, where I felt strong, where I felt I belonged; But I am not!
This is immigration. You have everything but nothing!
Translated by: Jahan Raha