Writer: Bahin Jafari
I ask about the feeling of being a teacher, and she changes her voice and sighs, but talking about how the future of her students goes dark makes her cry.
Reyhaneh is a woman who taught karate to girls before the fall of Afghanistan, along with being a teacher. She also owns a clothing workshop. She is 30 years old and the mother of two children. Like many other women in Afghanistan over the past twenty years, she has struggled to build a better life for herself. She never thought that her achievements would one day be a sad memory for her. On the day of the fall of Kabul, she was teaching in the classroom while the school principal gathered all the teachers in the hallway, and everyone was horrified to hear that the Taliban had taken over Kabul.
I feel sadness in her voice, the sadness of all women who have inherited nothing but misery from their lives. She sighs deeply, and continues: “On the day of the fall of Kabul, I was in the classroom teaching my students when the principal’s voice rang out in the hallway, telling us to take care of ourselves adding the Taliban took over Kabul and get out of school.” Reyhaneh says goodbye to her students and accompanies them to the gate, calls the kindergarten where her daughter and son are, and tells the head of the kindergarten not to let them out until her husband arrives. She goes with one of her colleagues to get money from the bank, the shadow of terror covers the whole city and the streets are full of frightened people, Reyhaneh’s worries increase tenfold, and then the thought that she is losing everything comes to her mind.
“My whole body was shaking and my legs could not walk. Although the traffic was heavy, I had to get in the car to get to the bank. We were in the 13th district of Kabul when we saw ANA rangers rushing to Pole Sokhta, suddenly, they were shot at and the terrible sound of bullets made everyone say “Bismiallah” and the driver called everyone to calm down. Every moment I thought the world was over, I thought to my daughter and son how they could live in this country that is drowning. When I got to the bank, I was faced with closed doors and hurried home. “Days went by like this, and the news of Ashraf Ghani’s escape and the destruction of government institutions were spreading widely.”
Reyhaneh has also been a member of the National Karate Federation’s judging panel, saying that all their photos were removed from the Karate Federation’s page after the Taliban came to power. I was surfing on Facebook when I noticed an invitation letter from National Karate Federation for a meeting but they did not invite the ladies. All the pictures of women athletes have been removed from the federation page. I was sure they are going to eliminate women and I lost hope. Some women decided to fight against elimination. On Friday, September 3, we gathered at the crossroads of the Faware Aab and chanted “Elimination of women is the elimination of human beings” and the Taliban resorted to violence ignoring their promises in Doha peace talks. I as an Afghan woman felt the same pain of beating by the Taliban as my mother felt twenty years ago in the first period of the Taliban. The Taliban flogged us and pointed their guns at us to make our voices silent. After that, we had a lot of demonstrations that are still going on.
She recalls the days and nights when the Taliban identified women protesters and detained them to silence them. Reyhaneh took refuge in her father’s house after the arrest and torture of protesting women increased, and after a few weeks, she was forced to emigrate to save her life and the future of her children. She left Kabul with all her memories and is displaced to one of the neighboring countries.
Reyhaneh even feels threatened by her father-in-law, her father-in-law is now collaborating with the Taliban and did not allow Reyhaneh to leave Afghanistan and said he would not allow her to take his son and grandchildren away.” I forced my husband to leave Afghanistan without the permission of his father. When my father-in-law found out, he threatened me several times and tried to find us.” Reyhaneh said.
Reyhaneh is a pseudonym she has chosen to hide her identity. She was narrating her story of leaving Afghanistan through smuggling when I heard her daughter’s voice:” I wish we go back to Kabul, mom, I missed my friends.”
I ask her to give the phone to her daughter, I said hello, and she answers back, I ask her name? Without saying her name. Asked me, “Kaka, are you in Kabul?” I said: Yes. She said: God forbid the Taliban to get lost, we will come to Kabul and play with my friends. “Here all the girls call us escapers and do not play with me.” Her mother told her to say her name. The girl said, “My name is Arezoo, Kaka Jan.” I think only of the dreams that Arezoo has in mind, of the girls who can not go to school, of the things that Arezoo and many of her contemporaries may carry with them for many years like being in Kabul and playing in the dusty streets with her friends.
When I ask Reyhaneh, what do you think about your future and your children’s future? She says: “I do not think of anything but food and a shelter for life, that is, I think, do we have a future ?! “These few months we have been consumed the little savings we could have accumulated over the years, and life will be very difficult for us.”
She cried before saying goodbye, “We Afghans may have been born to read a story of happiness in a book and our dreams should not be taller than our knees. In Afghanistan, being a woman means a big amount of difficulties.”
Translated by: Ali Rezaei