By Freshta Azimi

They are grimacing at you. The white plastic bag of orange, and his hand in his right pocket _that could be your hand_. You try not to think of anything, to keep your head, but something pushes you and everything comes to your eyes as in a tv screen. You remember the time when you were still in your class and you were allowed to laugh at his jokes and he was always shocked and was looking with his eyes wide open at your grades. He was cool, funny, polite, and a little bit lazy. Not that he doesn’t study at all. It’s just that studying was not as important as it is to you. As for most boys. He was getting less grades than you and was studying less than you. Now you look at him, crumple your hand in your right pocket and think about the 30% you rejected. The 30% that he is buying oranges by. You know that now, if you improve your English a hundred times more than him and even if you get 120 in the international TOEFL exam, let alone the orange, that even you won’t have 1 Afghani money which you can buy chewing gum with or pay for a bus to escape home for some hours in the days that all things around are trying to suffocate you. 


The decree that the Taliban announced was hitting your head, like an axe to a green tree. ”The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan announces that girls and women are banned from working in any governmental or nongovernmental organization. Until further notice, females do not have the right to work.” And just tomorrow, some educated open-minded women went out to fight for their basic rights. For the right of work and education in 21st century! You were also there, in the protest. But what happened? The Taliban shot at you protestors, arrested some women, the women shouted, the men watched, you got angry, you got scared, you spitted on Talib’s back hidly, you cried. And what was the world’s reaction? ”We strongly condemn this decision of the Taliban!” And you understood that the United Nations is only a symbol. No one cares. You are alone. An 18 -year-old girl in front of a crucial army that hates you and tries to eliminate you.


You fall back to the day when the guard stopped you at the Wassa’s door where you were studying computer and allowed that young boy who was wearing smoked glasses and had long curly hair to enter. The tremor that had gripped your heart since the first day of Taliban arrival crept into your voice and you barely could say the word ”why”. And he started like the black old radio of your grandfather: ”It is closed until further notice. Don’t you have a TV? Last night they officially announced that all schools and educational centers are closed for girls until further notice. Only for girls. They even brought a letter yesterday. Last night, my daughter was crying until the morning. You know my daughter, my daughter studies from night to morning. She got the nickname of genius in her school. Like you, she always has a book in her arms. She finished her English last year. She teaches. What was the name of the Academy? Oh, I can’t remember. I forgot. It had an English name. Old age and a thousand errors my daughter. She’s studying for the Kankor examination and pays for classes herself. But now… But don’t be sad, my daughter. Don’t be sad. Did you see that night always stays night? Has anyone seen this? Kind Allah will punish these hard cruel people. My God, our God will order the earth to swallow These–”


If another young man did not arrive and wouldn’t interrupt the one-person conversation between you and the guard and you have not pushed back that the boy who arrived later than you could inter earlier, maybe he would never stopped talking. And never stopped thinking, but you come to yourself. In fact, they bring you to yourself. You bend down and pick up your entrance card from the ground putting it on your head. You hide in it. In your forced chador, your entrance card. ashamed of the kind guard who called you a professor.  Ashamed of your new shoes and ashamed of all the male shoes who have permission to enter anywhere that your shoes don’t. Ashamed of Farhanaz’s big black back bag, on which you changed your only white beautiful dress with. She waited 1 year and 6 months first. But no further notice came to let her go school, and she wasn’t lucky enough to be in the first to sixth grades and be able to study, get beaten, pick her nails from the bottom and be under the tents that smelled of forty kinds of student’s sweat and various perfumes of teachers in the hot sun, and in the mornings who falls asleep and gets late, bends and straightens herself twenty or thirty times and listens to advise every day. She finally decided to exchange her bag for your dress and for a long time was happy that she was able to fool you in that deal. Ashamed of your father who was giving you money six days a week and was emphasizing that you don’t walk all that commute, ashamed of all those who encouraged you all this time. You are ashamed of Gabriel García Márquez, Mss. Afsaneh Vahidyar, and Anton Chekhov, who sat in your bag and watched your failure, and you start to hate yourself. You sit on the side of the road, where the path splits in half, you cry and decide, you get up and walk the way you just walked, Again. This time without your entrance card and looking only forward, not down. You don’t even wear the Chador where you have to wear it. You say to yourself: ”why should I listen to them when they don’t recognize me as a human and try not to let me breathe? And as soon as you arrive, you start kicking. But the door is stronger than you and  nothing happens to it. Or no, maybe it is screaming from the inside. You kick, you look and nothing changes, it’s the same big black door with a handle that has been pulled too much and its color is lighter and sadder. Just like the color of the city in you. The door is so similar to you. You were also screaming inside and apparently, nothing changed and you still had the same eyes and body with the right to be nothing. You kick again and another man comes. He is afraid of you and then joins the crowd of taxis and passersby who are watching this circus. A woman’s voice passes you and says, ”Shit. What they’re doing with these shameless, wild girls is not even enough. And she goes.

2 April, 2023