Writer: Miss. Mastura Pakbin Alizada
Having experience of male dominant society where females are the marginalized member of the society, this created complex to me and aspired me that I must be someone for myself regardless of what the society perceive about me and whether my family accept my vision or not? I only talk with myself and I am motivator and advisor for myself. Sometimes I laugh on me while sometimes crying, but I don’t accept being without any vision in my life.
I am a generation who our mothers during their childhoods and youth were deprived and have been imposed of violence that I still am witness of such structural violence and social norms. I feel lucky as I have a mother who she didn’t want me to be marginalized, deprived like her generation.
While I was students in the 9 grade of secondary school, my mother she was listening to the TLO a local TV 6pm news. My mother was so encouraged as she was listening deeply to the news as the journalist was a young girl. While each time my mother was listening to the news she was expressing her feeling and saying to me she is dreaming one day I as her daughter to be like her on the peak of the TV journalist. Since then working as journalist it became my vision to work in this field but while I wanted to attend university the result of the public university exam on 2016, selected me to study social science which I didn’t like it. Because of this I was not interested in this field and never studied hard and my class attendance was not good. Fortunately, an opportunity came to me and it was the binging of 2017 I was started working with Bamyan a local radio and as I had interest in this field I learned sooner and got capacity to work efficiently through. Since then I started working with media such as: Bamyan local radio as manager of female section, producer and journalist through Sayara Media reporting the news of peace negotiation and working with Salam Watendar and Salam Afghanistan engaged in women related news and programs. I also worked with Institute of War and Peace collecting the stories of people from war. In addition, I worked with World Food Program WFP, BBC as coordinator at central zone of Afghanistan. All I what was engaged it wasn’t easy to reaching in this stage now, of course there were strong challenges from family and bearers of the society and at working environment too but I coped with all and I was trying to struggle, putting efforts and supporting more females to provide opportunities to them to be hired in such organizations. Fortunately, Bamyan local radio from its foundation till collapse of president Ashraf Ghani government it acted as a university and built the capacity of many journalists who found their ways to working in national and international media. I had relatively good living and heading progress, feeling as servant of my family and the people was very happy as I was able to support my father being beside him and was trying and putting efforts for my family betterment and flourishing such as my brothers and sisters with relax mind were continuing their progress through attending courses I was their model, supporter and motivator in fact. My mother from childhood till age of 45 who didn’t take any pen in her hand and even didn’t look to any page of a book and notebook. She now based on my support started informal education at home by a tour who now she is literate and can read the primary school subjects she very much interested to attend formal education at school. She is so keen on education wants to attend school and accompany her youngest son who he is at the 4th class of primary school. I was trying to facilitate ways and possibilities for her to go to the school what so nice desires, dreams and nice plans I had in my heart.
I remember those days when gardens were full of flowers and fruits, nature was fill in love and venues were full of knowledgeable, artists and talent people. On the other side there were coquetry young girls with black uniform and veil having books on their hands. There were also artist women with local musical instrument called Dambora waiting for playing who provide pleasure happy and peaceful moments by playing closer to the Ban Ameer lake as the mirror of sky. The local musician in the mountains of Hindukush and Baba trying to bring happiness through their golden larynx to bring wounded Buddha inhabitants together to heal their wounds and to encourage the Bamyani communities for building peace. All what I mentioned didn’t allow me to think that Bamyan province will be collapsed captured by Taliban. But it was Thursday 12 and 13th of August, 2021 that communities were talking about the collapse of Bamyan province and alarm of terror and fears were seen on the face of people. It was Saturday and I didn’t belief that Bamyan people will surrender their province to extremist Taliban a I was feeling pain and my body bones were burning. I don’t know why I was very motivated and enthusiastic to work very hard on that day as I didn’t take break even for 15 minutes rather tried my best to have longer and longer radio program for my audiences. I gone late home on that day and our neighbors didn’t sleep during the night for a week. I was hearing from communities that Bamyan will be collapsed soon. In that night my father also held a meeting but I slept as I was so tired and exhausted. After few minutes while I was sleep, my mobile started ringing and while I responded it was my radio colleague asked me in a fearful and terror feeling Mastura! why your father he is not responding the telephone?
My colleague added saying tomorrow Bamyan our province will be collapsed and captured by Taliban we all should be aware of it. I didn’t know with sleepy eyes I run towards my father room I saw my father, mother, sisters and my brothers all are sorrowful and silent even we didn’t hear the voice of TV rather everyone is looking to each other and this was the moment I was looking to everyone didn’t know how to break the silent? I wanted to know why all of them are upset and uncomfortable what happened whether our neighbour he was sick might be died? But then I thought no the neighbour death why should effect so deeply my family member? So again I was thinking what happened? Whether our relatives they are fine? I had an ill grandmother and grandfather may be something happened to them? Then I thought if they both died then why my family member are silent no one is crying? So what? All these were questions coming and going into and from my mind.
My mother while she was looking to me she was totally frightened as she was thinking something may will happen with me. She looked to me and she said” Mastura are you OK? Why your face is pale and wan? She asked me you didn’t sleep? Go and sleep still it is night. I said no no kind mother I am fine. I asked my mother where is my father? She responded saying he is in our neighbor house and yet he didn’t come back. I asked again why you all off TV and why you all seems uncomforted, nervous and anxious? My mother breathed deeply and said our neighbor left their house and she added they are very poor and can’t afford to pay to scape by car, they started walking during the night in case Taliban entered in Bamyan province how such poor households can rescue their lives? Then I understood why I was waking up and came to another room where my mother was there? While I discovered that my family are so concern of situation, my heart didn’t allow me to tell them that a dark day is coming and that is tomorrow. I didn’t sleep rather waited till my father to come but I was walking in the yard of our house with the very impatiently feeling. I didn’t know what should I do, what and to whom I should tell? I contacted again to my colleague and I asked are you sure about the darkness of tomorrow? The respond was yes it is an unfortunate fact we should accept it and find ways. After few minute our door was knocked and I asked who are you? My father replied this is me my daughter while I opened the door my father told to me, what are you doing during the midnight why you are outside of your room? I told him nothing I am waiting for you to see you came now back. I asked my father what is the news and what are the neighbors saying? My father in a sarcastic way told me you are a journalist but asking me about the news? He said this to me and both of us we entered to the room. I tried my best keep me calm and I asked my father is this correct our province Bamyan will be surrendered by Taliban? If yes, what we should have precaution for it? Those our neighbors can’t leave the province what will happen to them? My father looked to me and said my daughter those our neighbors remained they will be burned as fish in the oil. My father then added I wish there was a big car to help some of them taking with us in a safe place. Then my father started calling his friend in another province it called Median Wardak province and he asked his friend we some families will be coming to tomorrow so find a house for us there.
It was around 4 am of early morning we including one of our neighbor started escaping from our home and province toward Median Wardak province we all were crying during our journey. In that moments I didn’t know whether I should advise others or should I cope with my own pain? I can say we passed a very painful night but while we reached to Median Wardak province all the communities welcomed us warmly as the pretty young girls and oldest women they expressed their empathy, sympathy tried to support us to not be affected of displacement. They were telling us about the collapse of their province and trying to teach us in what way we should behave with Taliban to keep us secured. They were saying Taliban put limitations and restrictions on their small communities all these made me uncomforted. Because I was concern of people, brothers, sisters, friends, myself and the money which I saved in the bank. I had contacts with my friends and relative they said Taliban captured Bamyan without violent fighting so local authorities handed over the province peacefully. While we heard that Taliban allow communities to live there so we decided to return back to our home province of Bamyan. I needed inter net for that reason I went to my grandmother house in the center of Bamyan. After living there, I was witness of Taliban firing and terror. One of my friend she called me asked me where are you Mastura? I responded I am in Bamyan she told me you have to take care and be caution of yourself. Those whom all I know them they joint Taliban groups and through them Taliban was searching and trying to find those who are activists. At first I didn’t take this serious but after another 2 hours my colleague from my office called me saying there are some unknown people are asking about you and they try to find your address so you should leave Bamyan. I was waiting till morning and was concern what would happen to me and why Taliban are looking for me and all other women activists? While it was morning an unknown call came to my mobile asked me why you are not coming to the office? In response I said I am not in Bamyan province saying I am in my holidays next week will be coming to my office. This unknown call added my concern and I was thinking who would be this and why he asked about my absence in my office? Yet I didn’t find any answer to my questions, again another telephone came to me. I was in a situation whether I should respond or not? But finally I responded and it was another woman activist who was a very well-known woman. She who called me was very worried and without any greeting started and told me why you didn’t off your mobile? She also added saying hoping you are not in Bamyan. I told to my lovely friend I am still in Bamyan but tell me what happened? She told me since yesterday ringing are coming from Taliban and asking me about the addresses of a group of well-known woman activists including yours. I explained to her about my situation but she advised me to off immediately my mobile and put a message in my Facebook that I left the country. Some of my friends and relatives wished me a good life but for some others it was a question how I left the country however some others called me fugitive and escapee but all what I was hearing I kept silence. I talked with my family they told me to go to Kabul in the capital of the country. My mother brought me her veil she kept that since her younger days it was a very long veil even my shoes were not visible. I wore that and moved towards Kabul my face was totally covered with. Not at all I was imagining that my existence in my beautiful birth place in Bamyan will be risky and dangerous to me. In order to survive I was forced to leave my job, family and my birth place. How I reached to Kabul I don’t know but since I cried a lot so my veil was fully wet of my tears as I was arrested under the veil. I was not able to keep myself awaken but I didn’t know whether I was sleep or in faint? In such moment I heard a very calm voice it was my father asked me are you fine if yes why you are not talking? I only was hearing sounds but had no ability to talk then my father gave a bottle of water to drink. With thousands of fear and terror finally we arrived in Kabul. For some days I stayed in a house of my friend and discorded all people try to leave the country. There wasn’t any way for me neither to return back to my home province Bamyan nor to leave the country. Just I was in shock thought my life stopped and long nightmare is happening in my mind even I was afraid of being weak up from such a sleep.
It was 25th of August mean 10 days after the collapse of the government day by day the situation was getting worse and fearful. It was afternoon a colleague of mine called me saying Salam Wantendar network evacuate us from central part of the country Bamyan to outside of the country. My colleague asked me to send your biography to her. This contact acted as hopeful window for remaining alive but fear, anxiety and terror was continuing. Days were passing and there wasn’t any news related to evacuation so I have been disappointed and becoming weaker and weaker. Hearing about arresting of the people, silence, joblessness, and targeted killing all were most painful moments in my life. I was feeling I am not existing anymore. Even I was not believing this frustrate girl who she is silent, fugitive, escapee who see herself in an enclosure of walls who she psychologically arrested in these walls she is me Mastura.
Approximately 2 months gone and I still was hidden as an escapee and yet any news about evacuation. One of my school classmate called me and saying that Women Asian University for keeping safe the noble and talent women announced scholarship. She encouraged me to apply and added you Mastura will be accepted for this scholarship as you are eligible and meet the criteria. I was in doubt but finally decide and applied. I was asked for an interview and hopes for being alive started to be awaken and the hopes breathed in my body. Some of the families disagreed and they were advising me to go to Pakistan and follow my case but I preferred Women Asian University. This university founded 2008 and students were graduated at BS level, but now after the collapse of Afghanistan government the university started MA degree mainly for Afghan girls to attend and the university tried to rescue the Afghan girl through.
171 Afghan girls were able to meet criteria of Women Asian University but the question was how to take out these young girls from Afghanistan to Bangladesh as Taliban was announcing that females have no right to go out without their chaperons and guardians? But still we were waiting whether Women Asian University would be able to evacuate us or not? As much as we kept waiting gradually we were losing out hopes but the chancellor and their staff of Women Asian University in Bangladesh was regularly giving us hopes that you all must be evacuated. On the side targeted killing of women, limitation, kidnapping of individual and groups of people, searching homes all were keeping and destroying our minds.
Finally, the Women Asian University was able to get visa for 171 young girls but was not confident on safety and guaranteeing of these girls to move from Afghanistan. Women Asian University developed a real strategy divided us into smaller groups to go first to Pakistan and then Emirate Arabic and then to Bangladesh. Base on instruction we I Kabul airport there were security groups taking care of our safety who really provided us opportunity which not believable to be safe of Taliban. We all wore veils long cloths with few weight of bags showing we are going to Pakistan for health treatment. We established WhatsApp group of 13 members acting we don’t know each other. We stayed in Pakistan for a week and then moved to Emirate Arabic and finally to Chetagram city of Bangladesh. Within a month all girls left home country and now we established a small Afghanistan here in Bangladesh.
I am one of the Afghani girl among the 22 others now continue my education in the field of education, leadership and analysis of politics in English to get my MA. We also have to learn French language that is good opportunity. I am very happy as I can do for my country in the future through learning here. I from my heart am thanking and appreciating because of Mr. Kamal the chancellor of the university and his colleagues who are beside us, give us energy and power through their financial and moral support the Afghan girls in such a worse situation. What a nice plan this university has for we 22 Afghan girls we after our graduation will move to Asian countries and serve other Afghans. I very much am interested and appreciating this and will try my efforts to help my country and the people.
Translated by: Mastura Pakbin Alizada