Listen to this story:
The Nadimas family fled Afghanistan when they were babies. In adulthood, she returned. Today, despite fears and uncertainty, the 38-year-old refuses to leave. In this article, she reflects on the changes she has witnessed in her country since the Taliban came to power on August 15. She wonders what the future holds for women in Afghanistan and wonders why most men do not support them in defending their rights. .
All my cousins that I had not seen for 10 years had been visiting Kabul for the past three days, from Mazar, from Herat. We all had a great time together.
The house was full of girls, we danced, we all decided to dress up, they all wore my turbans, we all wore traditional clothes. We sang together, we cooked, we shared stories, we talked about everything that is going on.
A cousin of mine remembered how hard she worked to be a teacher; now she can’t imagine staying home and not teaching. She fought for her education, she protested against her family, while the only person who supported her by going to India to get her masters degree was her husband. Even her brother, my cousin, disagreed.
So she can’t imagine staying at home. She is afraid that what happened to her mother, who was shot in the knees by the Taliban in 1999, 2000, will also become her story. She doesn’t want to be beaten like her mother was for insisting on running her girls’ school in Heart after the Taliban shut down.
My cousin tells me that she is very strong and independent and will always advocate for education. But she doesn’t feel like she wants to do it from here, so she goes to Turkey.
These people don’t know our worth, our worth, what we have to offer as women, so I’m going to go to a country where I’m welcomed and appreciated, she told me. All the hard work that I put in to get here, so that I can teach another little girl, now I’m going to do it for a country that will accept me and want its wives to be educated, did- she declared.
It made me very sad, you know, because she’s precious to this country, to the young girls here.
She understands the culture, the language, the education system, because she’s been through it. She is a math genius and was going to do her doctorate. But now someone else will appreciate the fruit of their hard work, Turkish students. Now in another country another group of people will learn from her when she should be teaching children in Afghanistan.
We have lost so many women like her in this country. I am very very sad.
I’m fine but everyone’s gone and I’m sitting all alone in the house and I’m like: what am I going to do?
Due to my decision to stay, I can’t even tell anyone how I feel. When shots were fired in the air the other day, I called a cousin of mine, who also lives in Kabul and cannot leave. I asked him: are you okay? Celebratory gunfire seems to be the new normal, we heard it the day the US troop withdrawal was completed and then again when Mullah Baradar, the deputy head of the new Afghan government, arrived in Kabul he a few days ago.
I’m fine but what are you doing here? she asked.
I can’t leave, I say.
No, you have no excuse to call me, no reason to call me. You chose to be here now to live with it, she replied.
So I don’t even have the right to express what I feel.
Those who choose to stay here, raise their voices, or try to be a part of it and at least observe and understand for themselves, don’t even get the chance.
People started to get listless because they were just trying to survive. They worry about the economy, their education, their health.
What saddens me is that yes, there is a change happening, there is a change of government, there is the story with the Taliban of the past, people have trauma.
But what does this have to do with women who go on to study? What does this have to do with these orphanages in need of funding, for child victims of the last 20 years of war? What about those women who are in the hospital about to give birth at any time? What about the nurses, the doctors, who will take care of them?
How can anyone, anyone in the world, decide to leave it all behind and not think about children, young women and young boys, and the men themselves?
I have the impression that a divorce has taken place between Afghanistan and the rest of the world.
Afghanistan is like a feminine energy woman and now she finds herself with a bunch of children who have become dependent on this father. And Afghanistan, being the feminine energy, has become a housewife. He was told: You have nothing to do, well, do everything for yourself. But it was all a lie and she ended up with a bunch of kids; their education, their health, their social life, everything has been taken away from them.
And after what happened last month, who will take care of it? Who is going to send therapists for this? Who will create the healing energy? Who is even now trying to say that everything will be fine? Who stepped forward and tried to reassure people and said: We don’t know what the future holds, but we were here, weren’t going to just leave everyone hanging out.
There are blockbuster movies made in Hollywood that are so good at creating these heroes who always save the world. But look at what is happening in reality. Where are the heroes? Because it’s real, the zombies take over. It is real and these children are in real pain.
The other day, I saw women protesting in the street from the window of my house. They were screaming and protesting for their rights and the rest of us were sitting inside.
I looked at my cousins and I said: Look, there are more women in this city, how come there are only 50? [protesting]?
It’s quite a sight, replied my cousin. Real people sit and watch this. These poor women will likely be beaten, injured and traumatized and no one will give them therapy.
We did this share of fighting 15 years ago, 20 years ago. My mother did it, our grandmother did it.
We now know that there is nothing [that] can be done for this country because men, men do not protect us. They won’t protest for us, they won’t respect us. No man came out and protested for their sisters, mothers, daughters, wives, nieces, granddaughters.
She said men just want power and money and control while we are used. So if men don’t do this for us, what can we do?
And then there are the other men who become suicide bombers on the basis of the idea that when they die they will have Heaven and a bonus of 70, 72 virgins.
But it’s crazy for me. I don’t understand how they are willing to die for the idea that they will be rewarded with 72 virgins in heaven, while on this earth they won’t even try to fight for one woman, they won’t die for another their own mother, their own sister, their own grandmother, their own daughter, their own niece.
It amazes me that they are ready to die for these imaginary women that they could get in this paradise but they are not ready to die for the women of this country, in this world, on this earth.
There are women begging in the streets with little children on their knees. These children are all bitten and they have scars, their mouths are dry from dehydration, their nails are all damaged from vitamin deficiency, and they all look malnourished.
These men have no empathy for these women and their babies, but they will marry a virgin of 15, 16, 17 years old.
They kill the women who sell their bodies to feed their families, but they will not kill the men who give money to women for prostitution. The man who looks at a woman in the street, he will not be punished, but the woman who walks, without disturbing anyone, is invited to cover herself.
Women are constantly compromised here, while the one causing the problem walks around freely.
Today I’m alone, all my cousins are gone, and it’s so quiet. The house was full of children. I used to have my friends for tea at night, but now I’m alone. But thank goodness I’m not alone.
I’m always going to stay and keep raising awareness and trying to smile and make jokes and try to make everyone laugh, because the least I can do is try something that I want to see from the rest of the world too.
I know this thunder will pass and I am confident the light will shine through.
* Nadima, known to her followers as her alter ego Patinggala Kakai, is a Pashtun social media influencer focused on spreading the message of unconditional love and defending basic human rights for all.
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