My Memories of School as an Afghan Girl

By Raihan Rahimi

Girls at school in Afghanistan several years ago

It was another world with joyful times. I vividly remember being enrolled in school and being the smallest student in the class. We wore black uniforms with white veils. I learned the alphabet and numbers and continued until 3rd grade in the primary school of my village and then I enrolled in a high school that was nearly 30 minutes walk from my home. But for me, as a kid who loved school, it did not matter.

Every morning I ate my breakfast, packed my backpack and walked to my friends’ houses in my neighborhood. My two friends, who were really friendly and lovely, and I walked to school, joining like small rivers. Along the way we joined with other small rivers, until we were a big river, a big group of girls who were colorful and talkative. We were like noisy birds in the spring on a beautiful hill. We talked about our future dreams and discussed our lessons along the way. We were so friendly and busy with our school affairs that 30 minutes of walking was like 5 minutes.

In school, we competed to be the first student to read the text or explain the previous lessons. During breaks we jumped rope and sprinkled water on each other for fun. These times were memorable and so enjoyable that we did not want to return home as the school day ended. But we walked to our homes with all our jokes and laughter and with hope to return the next day with more energy and patience.

When I came home, my mother was waiting for me as I was entered the old door of our home. She welcomed me with her motherly smile that I love so much. She prepared my lunch and I told her all my stories and adventures in school. Sometimes we were laughing, sometimes she was encouraging me and motivating me to do more.

In the evenings, the darkness covered my beautiful village in the mountainous province of Daykundi in central Afghanistan. I did my homework, drawing the pigeon of peace. I complained to my father about my older brother who was not eager to help me in solving math. I slept at night, always with the promise of going to school tomorrow and starting a new day with new adventures and exceptional joys.

Every day we got older, our dreams got bigger, our grades got higher. We were close to graduation from 12th grade, the grade all girls in the village dreamed to finish and open our way to higher education. We passed the first term exam and had just one term remaining to finish 12th grade. But darkness emerged and not only our dreams but the dreams of all girls in Afghanistan changed to ashes under the feet of the Taliban.

To be honest, I miss my uniform, a symbol of education, and am disappointed that all the world is silent aboutAfghan women’s rights. The Taliban announced that boys and young men can continue their education, but they have announced that they will make a decision about girls and young women. This decision is in fact taking the right of education from us. That is why, I have written this essay — to raise my voice and tell all the world that I am a young woman and even in a mountainous and rural area of Afghanistan, I have a right to an education. Please stop your silence and raise your voices for us.