Photo: Jawad Jalali
Nasera Faryabi is an Afghan Journalist. She had to leave the country in 2021 when the Taliban toppled the former government.
The clock shows 04:25 in the morning when I glance at it. I am holding Masouds hand tight in my right hand, and I squeeze a bag into my left. It’s filled with our most treasured possessions and fondest memories from the place we called home. My husband and I try to reach one of the American military institutions, which is supposed to take us out of the country. I look around me and see people sleeping on the ground or in streams, using the light of my mobile phone. A child is shedding tears, while a woman gazes into the final gloomy hours of the night with trepidation. Here, at the entrance to Kabul Airport, everyone is looking for the last chance of survival.
My husband’s phone is ringing. It is the employee of the same American military agency, we are heading for. He got information from foreign security agencies about the possibility of an attack. Masoud hesitates and asks his father, who is standing beside him. My parents-in-law, who are elderly and have encountered numerous difficulties while waiting for hours, are reluctance to return. They say that they are incapable of taking even one step. Three other young families are standing two meters away from us, too. It looks like they don’t want to go either. They arrived here hours before us, and they say they are not interested in accepting the possibility of staying in Afghanistan. The sun is rising, yet it appears to be the commencement of the final dawn. We headed back for home because I didn’t want to take the risk.’ A few hours later, we heard about a big explosion.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives at Abbey gate, the gate leading to the airfield, where we were awaiting our departure. After the explosion, shooting started and the airport was closed. There were many innocent people’s blood spilled there, where my family and I had been walking a few hours ago.The American military agency had invited us three times to the airport. We were unsuccessful each time.
After failing our last attempt to escape to another country, we were forced to go into hiding. Approximately a month passed between the four walls of a room, listening to heartbreaking news on television. A month later, we got a visa for Pakistan and left our country. We arrived in Pakistan with a sparsely packed suitcase, but we left behind a plethora of dreams, aspirations, and goals on the dusty streets of Kabul.
I am Nasera Faryabi, a female journalist hailing from Afghanistan who is currently residing in exile in Pakistan. I’m a person, who put in significant effort to be able to speak up like men. My father and brothers were ashamed of the fact that a woman of the family worked in the media. I am, however, one of those women, who succeeded in this struggle. Until a group showed up and strangled everyone with their rules, saying they were following Sharia. I started working as a journalist as a student at the university radio station. Subsequently. I was a presenter for programs in Uzbek at Bayan-Shamal Radio and Banu Radio.
In all of my projects, I wanted to give Afghan women a voice. I expressed the sentiments of young girls, who were denied their fundamental rights. Women, who wanted to study. Women, who broke taboos were given voice. One of these women’s stories is forever etched in my mind and heart, and I will never forget it.
The remarkable story of Tamanna. For years, the 21-year-old girl, who wanted to study was exposed to domestic violence, and her right to education was refused. She didn’t go to school, but she read books in secret inside the house, and her reading skills were so high that when I interviewed her, I didn’t think I was talking to a girl, who hadn’t gone to school at all. I was pleased that she left her oppressive family and all traditions and came from Faryab province to Mazar-i Sharif to continue her education.
She was interested in establishing literacy schools for women.’ I was filled with great optimism upon seeing it. Now, I am considering her situation as more than difficult regarding these plans. She was able to obtain some relief from the constraints of her family by relocating to a different city; however, it is possible that the Taliban may have shattered all of her aspirations at present. Today, girls in Afghanistan can no longer study. They are unable to work in the media, and they cannot leave the house without a related man.
I worked for one and a half years in the assessment analysis department at Bayan e Shamal Media. I participated in a research project, conducted by the Goethe Institute, to predict the future of Afghanistan’s youth in the next decade. My husband worked for one of the American military agencies in Afghanistan. But now we are left alone in Pakistan. I contacted each of these institutions, but they did not return one email. In Pakistan, I am registered with the United Nations, but in many parts of the country this document isn’t accepted.
Today, I’ve been away from my hometown for two years. Despite my desire to start over, I am unable to separate myself from my past in Afghanistan. I am thinking about my dreams and the dreams of the girls in a country where smoke and gunpowder grow. Our nation was thriving with the skills of its youngsters and women, but everything changed when the Taliban retook power. When I see pictures of Kabul’s fall and the days I spent escaping that horrible city, the pain of a few hundred years comes flooding back into my mind. As individuals from Afghanistan, we have become completely humiliated and worthless. It is impossible to ignore these evils. I am greatly distressed and tormented by these situations.
My friends from different fields were excited to be present in the community and reflect on the problems of the society. Over the past twenty years, there have been numerous fields where women have become professional. My friends were working on their masters and doctorates.
There are numerous individuals, who have been displaced. People who remained in the homeland were condemned within the four walls of the house. And when I look at myself in a country called Pakistan, I feel like I’ve been forgotten. I feel that the efforts I have put into this for all these years have been wasted. The Taliban’s arrival in Afghanistan and the collapse of the republican system led to the same fate for most female journalists as mine. I still think though that this group of people, the Taliban, won’t last long, and Afghan women will be strong enough to get rid of their influence. But this time, we young people have to struggle. We must fight to overcome these difficult times.
Editing and translation: Selsela Imamzadeh & Sabine Büsch