A fictional short story by Raihan Rahimi
My family and I have been living in Kabul, Afghanistan for a long time but, originally, we were from Daikundi. Our economic situation is good somehow and we are keeping the wolf from the door. I am the youngest in my family. I am 20 years old. In our neighborhood there is another family from Daikundi. In that family is a girl, Nazdana, an extraordinary Hazara girl. I have known her for about three years. I love her thoughts, eyes, hair and laugh. She is my sweetheart. Her sorrows and happiness are mine. When I pray, Nazdana is the first person in my prayers.
Two years ago, I would whistle and Nazdana would come out of her home, and we would walk to school together. On Fridays we would meet and sit on a hill, listening to Dawood Sarkhosh’s songs and compare the beauties of Kabul with Daikundi. She was getting more beautiful every day. When the wind blew her hair, she was even more beautiful. When she looked somewhere else, I looked at her, that is how beautiful she was.
Our three years together passed by quickly and I entered University in Kabul, but Nazdana was not allowed to finish twelfth grade because the Taliban came to power again and had new rules that banned women from going to school or going outside without an escort. So now, I go to the university across from her house, but she is not with me. I see her through the window or on the roof while she is washing the clothes. When she sees me holding my bookbag, her eyes fill with tears, and I want to cry out for her deprivations. She wants to go to school, listen to music and keep living.
One day, when I came back from University, I looked for her on the roof, but she was not there. I called to her, and she came out. I asked if she would meet me on the hill the next morning and she said she would. I was so happy I jumped for joy.
At home, I prayed for Nazdana more than any other time. In the morning, I walked fast to get to the top of the hill and see Nazdana. I got there before she did. Kabul looked foggy and depressed. After waiting for some minutes, I saw a woman coming towards me. She was wearing a long chadari and accompanied by a young man I knew was Nazdana’s brother but I didn’t recognize the woman. When she lifted her veil, I could see that it was Nazdana. Her face was lined with sadness, she looked old before her time. Her chadari was like a bird cage. She cried and said if only she was Naze (a boy’s name) instead of Nazdana she would not look so old because she wouldn’t have been forced to leave school and never come back. She cried and I just listened, looking at the sky, silently asking God to help her.