It was Sunday, I checked the calendar that is attached to the wall of my room, it was 15 August-2021. As usual I combed my hair and dressed formally to go to work. I biked toward the office, but deep inside I felt as if something strange was going to happen. On the way I was thinking about the news that I had listened to. The BBC was discussing the possibility of a political agreement between the Government and the Taliban until transferring the power to a new government. I believed that I would not lose my job. This kind of thinking was releasing my stress.
I was working as professional Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Developer in National Statistics and Information Authority of Afghanistan. Our administration was located to Shahr-i-Naw in a building that was previously occupied by the Ministry of Interior affairs. As I arrived at the office, I started my work, but as I checked the administration building most of the staff was not present and some of them were leaving. I wondered why. I went to the Remote Sensing team, and everyone was confused, then someone told us that Taliban had arrived to the gates of Kabul city, and they wanted to attack. This news created a sense of fear for us, so then we got out of the room and realized that everyone was going. I was hesitating about what to do, but when I heard the sound of gun shots nearby, I turned off my computer, and rushed to the exit door, the remaining staff were hurrying to get out of the campus.
I rode my bike and as I arrived to the Quai-Markaz Street, I was faced with a crowd of people, huge traffic, and a lot of people who were attempting to get a taxi. Some people were rushing towards a bus; some were walking. I biked toward my room that is located in Kote-i-Sangi. When I was close to my room, I realized that Kabul university students and school students were going to their homes as well, angrily, and some armed polices cars were going in the opposite direction. I was terrified and did not know what was going on. It was not just me, but all people did not know what would happen.
In my room, I browsed Facebook pages, as well as listened to the radio. A friend came to my room and told me that the Taliban was at the gates of Kabul but they were committed to not attacking Kabul until the results of a discussion in Qatar between the government and the Taliban.
I was relieved by this news, because I believed in our national security, army and police forces as well as to our leaders. I was anticipating that there would be a transitive government and we would not lose our jobs and the system would not be disrupted soon. But when Dr. Abdulah Abdulah announced in a Live Facebook video that Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan, I realized that the darkness had started and that everything was finished. I lost my hope and I stayed in my room in order to protect myself.
I have lost my motivation for living. Everything was lost, and our twenty years of efforts for making a democratic Afghanistan was lost. That night passed with a sense of fear and confusion. The next morning, I was no longer a GIS developer who was impacting his community, I was a jobless person under authority of the Taliban. I remembered a sentence from Winston Churchill that says: “Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” So with little hope I asked my friend to have a walk around Kabul city with me in the first day of the Islamic Emirate.
We were curious to see what was going on around the city. We arrived to the Mazari road in the west of Kabul city, where about 90 percent of the residents are Hazaras, who believe differently than the Taliban. The first strange thing we recognized was a scarcity of women in the streets. We walked until Kot-i-Sangi, but no women were around. As we arrived to the Koti Sangi Bridge I faced a lot of people — young, old and kids that were going near to a Talib who had gun on his shoulder and asking to take a selfie with him.
I stood near a person who was looking into cars. He moved closer to me and told me to move, that he wanted to stand where I was. He took up his position and others took selfies with him too. I was thinking about how I’d spent my whole life working to make Afghanistan great, but now people were praising someone who damaged Afghanistan and whatever I had worked to build.
I was born and raised in a poor family. My father and mother risked their lives and used all their energy to support my education. Because of them, I have always tried to live up to their belief in me and never stopped learning and trying. I finished university as one of the top students and after graduation I transferred my theoretical knowledge of geography to 100 students in private schools of Kabul. Later, I was hired as a GIS developer in NSIA of Afghanistan. Alongside my education and job, I have done many volunteer works in educational and environmental areas, and have established many social associations. I worked hard to pass the TOEFL test in order to make myself eligible for a Fulbright scholarship. I scored 90 in TOEFL and applied for a Fulbright scholarship. Among 1000 applicants I was shortlisted. The interview was scheduled soon, but this change in my country removed all my dreams.
Now I do not know what to do. My dream of becoming a Fulbrighter has turned to ashes under the feet of the Taliban.