You Are Not Free

By Arezo Faqir Ahmad

It’s been almost two years since the schools closed. I don’t think I remember anything from the previous lessons. It’s been two years since the Taliban have closed schools to girls and the restrictions are getting tighter for women. Sometimes I am very disappointed that the schools and broadsides aren’t open anymore, and I’m stuck in the tenth grade and I can’t go to university anymore. I remember that when I was in the ninth grade, I was very interested in going to university and when I looked at my older sister who was in university, I was more interested in going to university. It was a time when Afghanistan had not yet fallen to the Taliban. I would go to Circus, it was a lovely place because it was a place where you could go far from life’s problems for a few minutes. Forget Afghanistan, we girls who were in Circus went to schools and in some circles to perform plays.


I was always subscribed to the plays. We were doing theatre and other fun shows. Sometimes we had big festivals outside. We went into the city and performed shows for people. When girls went out to perform shows, some people had a bad view of the girls’ shows. Only because they weren’t used to seeing girls performing plays. It wasn’t easy for us to put on  a show. 


At the beginning of the performances, I felt bad. I thought that maybe what people said was true,that a girl should not think about performing tasks other than housekeeping, teaching and doctoring. I remember my friends who used to go to the circus and spend happy times with each other. We used to perform shows with full enthusiasm, including one of my close friends named Sabna. I was very close with her.  Volleyball, theater shows, skating, cycling, etc. were among the things we did. I was very fond of cycling, but the only place where I could enjoy cycling was the circus, a place full of peace after it was closed. My friends and I, including my close friend Sabna, could no longer go to the circus. My friends and I were restricted and stayed at home.


I was hoping to finish 12th grade one day and go to college. I’m interested in the journalism field. I saw inside my dreams that I became a successful and self-sufficient journalist and I no longer had to suffer any hardships for the needs of my life. After the Taliban took Afghanistan, girls’ schools were closed for a while. After  school started again, our neighbor’s daughter said the Taliban would no longer allow us to wear short coats. We had to abide by Taliban rules. I wore yashmak against my will and went to school. And I still passed my exams without preparation. The days were full of anxiety. All the girls were upset that schools would be closed again after exams. The last time Afghanistan had fallen all the people were deprived of their basic rights. Especially women who had to wear yashmak. They were denied going to school. They were barred from going out without a confidant.


Even though I felt very bad, I was hoping that school might start again. Because the circus director always told us, “Don’t lose your hope and motivation, this time the Taliban will not last long like last time and their government will fall. So endure these days hoping for better days and don’t stop trying”


But schools were not opened for girls above the sixth grade. Nothing seems to change positively and although we are not free I am still hopeful.

8 October, 2023