One of My Worst Memories

It was a nice summer day during the Taliban regime. My mother wanted to go to bazaar. I was very bored at home, so I asked, “Would you please let me go with you?”

She replied, “Umm, well … it’s better to stay home. I will bring you whatever you need.”
“Please mom, I am very bored at home …” I said, and she accepted.

We were going to buy some materials for our kitchen and some clothes for my elder sister, who always preferred to stay home rather than going outside and buying clothes of her own choice. She hated wearing a burqa. I was very happy. Finally it was my turn to go for shopping with my mom. No matter what my mom wanted to buy, I loved to be with her while she wanted to go outside. At that time I was around twelve-year-old. I was not wearing a burqua, though my height was tall enough.

We take a bus and went to “froshga.” It’s the main or the center bazaar of Kabul. I was out shopping after very long time. I was looking around surprisingly. Every piece of clothing was looking nice to me. I was looking for something good for my sister. It was really enjoyable!

Suddenly we saw a big crowd of people running away. My mother grabbed my hand and told me hurry up go fast. I was shocked. I asked my mother, “Mom, why are all of the people running?”

With a loud voice she replied, “Didn’t I tell you don’t come? Now, be fast–”

We start running away too. Then I saw the Taliban’s car! Their car was moving slowly. Two of them jumped out of car and start beating a girl. She was around my age. They were beating her in foot and head, because she didn’t have a burqa. I had heard of, but had not seen such as event before. I started crying. I was not able to run. My mother hid me in her burqa. She was afraid too.

Finally their car passed. They didn’t beat us, but we completely lost our selves. She told me, “let’s sit somewhere. I cannot walk any more. I feel my feet are not mine.”

Our clothes and our shoes were totally dirty. We didn’t know how that happened. We didn’t buy anything. We took a taxi to go back home. On the way, I was just thinking about that girl… she was running while they were beating her. Another woman was with her, she was trying to hug the girl, she was saying “Don’t beat her, don’t beat her.” The girl’s hands were on her head. She was trying to secure her head. She was crying. It was very terrible; no one was helping her except the woman who was with her.

It was around 1:00 PM that we arrived home. My sister opened the door with a smile on her face.

She said, “Salam, mother jaan, welcome, lunch is ready. I was waiting for you to come –!” Both of us were quiet. We didn’t reply. She looked at us surprised. “Mother jaan, what happened? Why your clothes are dirty? Didn’t you buy anything? Did someone steal your money?” I started crying and told her the whole story–she was laughing at me while I was crying! She told me, “What do you think, am I a fool that I am staying home?” In my heart I thought: no, you are not; you are a mature girl who understands it’s better to stay home rather than going outside.

After that I promised that I wouldn’t go outside without having a burqa, but having a burqa is awful. You cannot breathe under that.

This was one of the thousand memories that I have from the Taliban regime. It reminds me of those awful days again! Those days went away, but their footprint will stay in our hearts forever.

By Zarlasht


10 responses to “One of My Worst Memories

  1. Dear Zarlasht,

    Please keep writing, even when it is is painful to recall. The world needs to understand what might really occurr on a “simple” outing to the market. This sentence tells us so much. “They didn’t beat us, but we completely lost our selves.”

    Barbara Fischkin

  2. Dear Zarlasht,

    Thank you for writing such a powerful story. Your mother showed so much courage in hiding you in her bukra, and you show courage in writing about this moment.

    Susan Breen

  3. Hello Zarlasht,
    You did a fine job describing a horrific moment in time. The piece is moving. I hope you will continue to write.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, difficult those it must have been.

  5. That is, difficult THOUGH it must have been.

  6. I loved this piece. It shows innocence and loss, a mother’s love and the bittersweet sister love. I love that last line about “footprint” on your heart. It’s a great image — reminiscent of them beating the girl in her own feet.

    Also, it made me remember the courage and power of women. It’s obvious who has the false power here, wielding violence, and who has the true power, wielding love.

  7. This is powerful writing — a story I will never forget. Thank you for sharing it even though I know it must have been painful to recall. I hope you will continue to share your memories of the Taliban.

  8. Your story leaves a footprint on all our hearts.

  9. A very powerful story, very well told. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I am so glad that women like you are putting your experiences in writing to share with the world.

  10. Your story will stay with me. The footprint imagery speaks volumes. Please keep writing.

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