Hope in the Dark Time

When the Taliban came into Afghanistan in the fall of 1996, I was 17 and I lived with my family. Girls were graduating from schools, many from the university, and most worked outside their homes.

When the Taliban came to our village, everyone wanted to see them and how they behaved. It was a sunny day, so calm it seemed nothing was alive. All the streets were quiet. I stood behind our door and saw some of them passing on the street.

They all had long beards and hair and it seemed that it was long time since they had washed. They seemed strange, and cranky. Their hatred against women was clear on their faces.

My brothers who were 19 and 15 went to the bazaar. When they came back, they told us that they hadn’t seen any men walking in the street. Everyone thought all the people had died. This news really shocked me because when men don’t dare to walk outside, what about women!

During their regime, many Afghan women were hit, whipped, and even killed by the Taliban. Women knew that their life was in danger. We couldn’t even say what we wanted.

This dark time forced most of my friends and neighbors to emigrate, but some of us stayed and hoped for our future. Each of us tried to keep busy any way we could, but sometimes it was very difficult. We read books and cooked different foods.

I read all kinds of books—schoolbooks, novels, and Islamic books. In Islamic books I learned how Islam gives rights to women, rights that were ignored during this time.

From my mother, who is a good cook, I learned to prepare different and special Afghan food: rice with meat, mantu (dumplings), and different sweets and cakes.

Whenever I cooked a new food, my brothers called to me, “Oh, you are really a good cook! We smell your dishes from the yard and want to come in the kitchen and eat it all!”

When I found free time I would sit in the corner of my house and just look at the sun. I remember my sister saying, “After every darkness there is daylight.” At night I watched the moon and compared it to my life—as dark as the night.

At the same time, an invisible hand shook me from behind, reminding me of my sister saying, “There will be daylight in your life soon.” This made me happy and encouraged me to plan for my future.

Even though it took me five years, I did what I wanted and carried out most of my plans.

By Fariba


  1. Jan O'Hara says:

    Thank you for your story of hope, Fariba. You have a beautiful heart, and a courageous one as well. I wish I could taste some of the wonderful cooking that your brothers love. Be well.

  2. “I did what I wanted and carried out most of my plans”. If the energy of all Afghan women were to be woven into a most beautifully created tapestry, would all your Sisters be nearer to carrying out the Collective Dream, Fariba? Time is a Maker.

  3. Sheharyar says:

    Thank you for this great story of hope. It was really inspiriing to me to read how you went against all the odds to accomplish comething you believed in.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Fariba — Thank you for your inspiring story. Despite being restricted indoors because of the abuse of women by Taliban, you were able to create a rich interior life for yourself through your reading and cooking. As you pointed out, there is nothing in Islamic text that justifies the subjegation of women. Unfortuntately, it is those who wish to manipulate the words of God for their own political end that make it so. And this, of course, is not limited to Islam. Even today, in the Western countries, there are Christians and Jews that believe women should not think and only exist to prolong the blood line. We are all equal under God. Your faith and strength are an inspiration for all women, and a reminder that the struggle continues. Remember, you are not alone.

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