Editor’s note: When the American attacks on the Taliban began in 2001 our writer was a child and her family sought safety in a village where they lived with six families in one house, with a yard and wall around them. Later, they fled to a Pakistan refugee camp.

The weather was rainy. My body shivered violently, but I couldn’t move my hands.
The whole place had an incredible stillness.
Streets were hazy, and my eyes searched through the mist.
I chose my steps carefully.
I heard a voice and felt led to it, a whimper of a child looking at me.
Her eyes were like bright stars, but behind the light was fear and grief.
I peered deeply at her to uncover her secrets—when I moved closer,
I found that her whole body was shaking and her feet were bare.
She stood in the still, dark street.

She reminds me of my childhood.
Of a time that I sat in a big enclosure, a closed yard.
I didn’t have the right to play with my friends.
At every sound of a bomb that rang in my ears, I ran to my mother’s arms.
This dreadful sound became the song of my life that separated me from the world.
Every time I tried to get out of the enclosure I couldn’t.
I tried to see outside the wall of our home, but I was scared.
Even my dreams were not my own. Every night I dreamed that someone wanted to
take my father from us, and he is the closest person to me.
But among all these nightmares, a beautiful woman appeared, saying,
“My daughter, this is life. “
I would hide myself in the green trees and grass.
My mother tried to calm me with sweet words, but during that time, among the bombs,
I was crying and incapable of seeing everyone around.

I was a child, an Afghan girl who will always fight the difficulties of those years.
Yes! I saw children in doorways, waiting for their mothers who were dying,
who would never come home.
I am a witness to a young boy who died, a mother’s only child.
I told myself, “I am a refugee child outside my country,
I don’t have the right to make choices, I must live poorly.”
I cried behind closed doors; my cold bed was full of teardrops.
My mother sat next to me and said, “We will again have the right to hope for our country
and for our lives. We will again wear new clothes in our country.”
But I can see that even in this green and beautiful world, girls still do not have many rights.

By Hila

AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq