Suddenly she realized that what she was regretting
was not the lost past but the lost future,
not what had not been but what would never be.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
In the summer of 1920, Kabul, a tender 7 year old was hopping her way to school holding the hem of her sister’s dress, singing a nursery rhyme taught the other day. Her sister was busy reading some text, while walking the kid to school; after which she’d have to walk another mile to her college, where she’d be graduating the same year as a ‘science scholar’! Bright, cheerful female faces could be seen hustling their way to schools, universities or work. No veil, no terror, no bombs, no Taliban imposing vile restrictions, no fear of being caught and sold as sex slaves, no risk of being beaten for absurd reasons and NO SECLUSION. They could walk freely with their heads held high, wear anything from pleated skirts to long gowns, study as much as they wanted, aspire and work wherever they wished to and marry anybody they felt compatible with. It’s appalling how until 1970’s women in Afghanistan had a right to live, speak and work as suited in Kabul and other cities which were far more developed than the contemporary world. Females weren’t only covering teaching grounds but creating space for themselves in politics, courts, high ranking offices, laboratories, everywhere. It was a period of refinement and development.
Then came the Great War period for Afghanistan and soon all plunged into darkness. As soon as the soviet entered in 1979, former rulers were overthrown and days became an ordeal to bear killings, rapes, robbery whereas nights for anonymous downpour of bombs. If it hadn’t already turned into ashes, the Taliban in 1996 began an odious ordeal of ghastly atrocities, the screams of which still echo through the corridors of their heart.
‘War’, a ruthless, egotistical, malignant yet prevalent reality of 21st century. Amusingly, the irony is that these are mostly ‘intended’ to achieve ‘peace’ or ‘freedom’, but ultimately the victims end up being terrorised and shackled for life. Since the beginning of time, norm has been to oppress the feeble. Power, be it in strength or riches, corrupts and when it does a chain of exploit and abuse commences, ravaging everything that’s less mighty than itself and unsurprisingly, women have always been on the receiving end. Taliban period ended in 2001, but even until today Afghanistan is no more than a barren land with a pile of burnt bodies, charred souls and rotten mind-sets. Even after 25 years, a girl is beaten and burnt by an angry mob in Kabul, for a false accusation and the authorities are perfectly inept in stopping the heinous crime or getting her justice afterwards. Even after continuous UN support funds and assiduous foreign efforts for reformation, Afghanistan remains as chaotic as before. But who is to be blamed? The governance, The Taliban, The war or The people themselves.
I cannot undo the past nor relieve them of the aftermath. But as a world citizen, I wish to re-envisage that place, reinvent and remodel the country where women breathe unperturbed. As a woman, I wish to say a yes to NO SECLUSION in Afghanistan.
– Sonu Anand