Although I am a student in international relations and hope to have a bright future, I often worry. I worry that when I finish my studies it will be so hard for an Afghan girl to work in politics in Afghanistan with the Taliban still a threat. Not long ago, my worries went like this:  

I am in a large, dark room. A few rays of sun enter through the thick, dark red curtains. But the darkness is overpowering the curious sun. Is it sunrise or sunset? No one knows. The only visible thing is dust particles dancing in the incoming glimmer.  

I squeeze my eyes to see more. I can see shadows of people and a dark rug and curtains. Some people are whispering; others are deathly still; some are sitting, others lie in the floor. All of us are women! Some are my high school classmates. 

A small square window high up in the wall suddenly opens and a sharp light strikes the room. The light is coming from a corridor lamp. Everyone is now silent watching the window. Some girls are slowly moving, trying to hide in the darker corners of the room. 

Our fear comes true: A rope with a hook at the end is thrown through the window. Someone whispers, “Anyone who is caught by the rope will be chosen this time.” Chosen for what, I wonder. The girls whisper: “This is how the Taliban gets us out, one by one!” The hair on my body stands on end from fear. I look for a dark corner to hide, when I feel something slowly pulling me back. The hook is stuck on my skirt! Trembling and scared to death, I lift my head for a last glance at the dim room and frightened women sharing my destiny. 

Now I am in the corridor and the dim light bothers my eyes; I can hardly keep them open but a man is standing in front of me, staring downwards. He wears black clothes and a piece of black material around his head and a beard: a Talib! He signals me to follow him. My mind is frozen. As I walk I notice I am wearing an odd outfit, a long gray skirt with small flowers and a loose shirt and black veil that covers me from head to waist. I follow the man like a sheep to the butcher. 

We enter a bright room crowded with men and women, but these people are well dressed. Some are army commanders. Others are Afghans in traditional dress and there are some Taliban, but not everyone is Afghan. 

I am bewildered. The Talib keeps walking and nobody notices us or my clothes. We sit down and there is a big screen in the room. The lights go off and a movie begins. It is a documentary about the war and we watch shooting rockets and bombs and the Taliban killing people. 

Suddenly the army commander stops the film and says to me in a loud voice, “Since you are studying international relations, what do you think about our plans? Should we continue to do these things?” 

The Talib beside me takes cigarettes out of his pocket and leaves. A foreign girl on my left looks at me and, as if she knows I am lost, says, “They all work with the Taliban and all these international people guide the Taliban.” She slaps my shoulder with a short laugh and says, “Welcome to our group!” 

My mind stops. I see and smell fresh blood, human blood everywhere. I can’t breathe….  

Suddenly I find myself in my own bed. I am sweating. My heart beats like a bird.  I am awake and it was a nightmare. It took me a couple of weeks to overcome my fear. 

The nightmare no longer scares me, but as graduation comes closer, it is true that some facts cannot be ignored about the future for an Afghan girl who wants to be in politics. While everyone in my class will be happy to finally finish their university education, I have a storm in my heart when I think of the dark path to an unknown future. Working in politics of Afghanistan may mean risking my life, but I will take the risk to serve my country with the hope of bringing some change.

By Shafiqa

AFP Photo/Farooq Naeem