I will never forget the day that my sister was engaged and my brother took us to the Herat Road River for a picnic. It was a very nice spring day and the river was roaring. We were looking at the river and enjoying ourselves when suddenly three Taliban appeared. They beat my father, brother, and brother-in-law with whips because the Taliban didn’t let men go on picnics with women or listen to music. Since my brother wasn’t wearing a jacket, his back became bloody. In that moment I was shaking and was sorry I could do nothing against them. That day I saw the real face of the Taliban.
When I was seven years old, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. They are a very wild and cruel people. For almost six years (1997-2001), they ruled Afghanistan by oppression. As soon as they came into power, they closed all the places that women could go, such as colleges, schools, and public baths. They believed a woman’s job is only to stay home and take care of her children, but this is not true because our prophet Mohammed stated, “It is essential for Muslims, both male and female to receive an education, even if they have to travel to China.” The holy Qur’an mentioned many times that men and women have equal rights and women must behave well and become educated.

At first I was too young to know the facts; after I got older I understood how unlucky all Afghan women are. For me it was very hard to spend my precious childhood at home, so my sisters and I started to study at home with my father. However, the Taliban let girls under the age of ten go to the mosque and learn how to read the holy Qur’an. For three years I learned how to read in Arabic and at home my father taught me how to write and read in Dari. When I was eleven, because my mother was so worried about my future, she sent me to learn tailoring. There I had to work very hard for my teacher. Because I met lots of people, I had a social life as well.

During the Taliban regime I didn’t have any fun at all. The Taliban closed the TV stations because they believed these were against Islam. They hanged the people who didn’t accept their rules. They put my brother in jail for one week because he was listening to music while he was fixing his friend’s car. During that week, we were very worried about him. Another time when I went to my sister’s friend’s wedding the Taliban came and arrested the groom and his father because of playing music during their party. I was so scared and came home without eating lunch. Once they hit my mom on her neck for going to the bazaar without a male. To this day she has a problem with her neck aching. Also I will never forget the day that I went to the bazaar with my sister and saw the Taliban had hanged my mother’s two young cousins because somebody told the Taliban that one of them was supporting people who were against their regime. I have lots of bad memories from those dark years.

— Marzia


3 responses to “Untitled

  1. Marzia – thank you for your courage and eloquence in writing about your vivid experience of the oppression of women by the Taliban. In the west, we take so much for granted: complaining about small things. Your words invite us into a darker, painful world, almost hard for me to imagine. We need voices like yours so that we can unite as a force of freedom and compassion. Good luck with your writing, and thank you!

  2. I suggest “Those Dark Years” as a title for this piece. I think that last line is the perfect summation of this way of life.

    It’s amazing to read these stories and know they are real. I think many of us who live far from this country and reality can’t imagine the reality of this, only as if it were a movie or a story in the newspaper. Your piece makes it seem real — your brother listening to music, the cousins hanging, your mothers neck.

    It’s clear, though, that your stamina and spirit were never broken by those dark years — your vitality shines through here in every word.

  3. This is a heartbreaking piece of writing but very well done. You’ve done a great job of giving your reader a window into what Afghanistan was like under Taliban rule. I admire the way you bravely call the Taliban “wild and cruel”. I also loved how you use a quote from the Qur’an to back up your statement that a woman’s role in life can be more than a wife and mother — a persuasive argument! Thank you so much for sharing these stories.

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