The 24th of August was the third day of my second semester at AUAF. I had started with so many hopes. I was in statistics class on the second floor of the Bayat Building, listening carefully to the lecture, when we heard gunfire close to campus. Growing up in Afghanistan, we think of gunfire as routine. Our professor continued his lecture. Seconds later, an ear-blasting bomb shook the building and shattered the window glass. The campus was under attack.
My hands and feet trembled as I rushed with the rest of the students into the hallway. In the dim light, I was shocked to see gunmen on the first floor shooting everyone. I saw students falling to the ground. I realized it was too late to escape the gunmen, too late to escape death.
Not knowing another way out, I followed everyone back to our classroom at the corner of the building. We lay on the floor. I called my younger sister, Alia, but received no response. Now my heart was beating even faster with worry. What if she had been shot? What if she was close to the explosion? My elder sister and my father called me and they were also concerned about her. I did not know she was in the same building, on the first floor.
There was silence everywhere as we lay on the floor playing dead. Then somebody entered the hallway. I could hear his footsteps crossing the broken glass. Everyone was barely breathing. I heard the gunman push open the classroom door with his gun. But then he left and walked to the third floor.
From 7 to 11 p.m., we waited. The police were calling to us, saying: “If someone enters your room, do not scream. It is the police.” Suddenly someone entered the hallway. He seemed to be angry and he was kicking classroom doors and firing his gun. We got up and pressed toward the window, pushing one another. Some people were jumping out the window. I was ready to jump, but when I got to the window, I saw bodies lying all around the campus. I saw my professor who was shot and was on the ground right below our window. I saw an armed man; he was one of the Taliban. I returned to my place on the floor, covering myself with my bag so only my head was exposed. I thought if the gunman shot me, then it would be better in the head so I would die without feeling pain. I heard someone kick the door in the hall next to us, but it was dark and the Taliban did not come to our class. They went up to the third floor.
At 2:20 a.m., I got a message from my father that they had found my younger sister and she was crying for me. It was then when my first teardrops fell from my eyes. I cried for a few minutes, but then the fighting erupted again. The Special Forces had reached the second floor and the Taliban were in the next room where we could hear shooting and then they started using explosives. The Special Forces threw four grenades into the room where the two Taliban were hiding. It was silent; one of the soldiers told the commander that they must be dead by now. After a minute I heard two of them walking slowly down the hallway on the broken glass. Suddenly a Taliban started firing and I heard the two soldiers screaming and falling down on the glass. Then everything was quiet again.
My left hand was totally numb; I could not move it at all. My father called me again, but I could not answer his call anymore. As the grenade explosions and firing started again, I put my head on the ground and covered my other ear with my hand. It was traumatizing to hear the brutal noises of gunfire, grenade explosions, and the helpless students around the campus. I thought these were the last few minutes of my life. With no control over my tears, I wondered why it had to end like this. I was tired, and hoping they would just enter the room, shoot us in the head, and end this nightmare.
After another long hour of fighting, the soldiers managed to kill the insurgents hiding in the room next to us. When we came out of the classroom, the hallway was full of dust, broken glass, and blood. I saw the blood of the soldiers who were shot by Taliban. There was more blood in the stairway. On the first floor where the students had been shot in front of my eyes, I saw blood again. At the exit door, there was the dead body of one of the Taliban wearing a police uniform. As I was walking, I slipped and fell on a body. The soldiers helped me get up. Gunfire could still be heard from the third floor.
Outside, I called my father. It was 3:40 a.m. when they picked me up. I hugged my father. I could not stop crying; that was the only thing I really could do that night. I saw my mom crying and then my sisters. I got back home at 4 a.m., still not believing I survived.
I don’t know if I will be ever able to walk on the campus where I saw dead bodies everywhere, or enter the hallway where I saw blood of our hero soldiers who died rescuing us. I don’t know if I can enter the classroom where death was so close to me. But I know that I am determined more than ever to continue my education, which will be my only weapon against Taliban.
By Arifa, age 18
Photo by US Embassy Kabul.
Your story is chilling and horrific and heartbreaking. It makes me cry to read what you experienced and continue to experience in the aftermath. So horrible! Thank you for your bravery in writing this down and reliving it as you did. We need to know what terrorism is like. I applaud your determination to arm yourself with education. I hope you will find a way to return to your studies. I will keep you in my thoughts and heart.
I learned that people’s lives can go that fast. I have never been in a situation like that. yes I am inspired by the person who wrote this because they were brave in sharing their story. How did you find the courage to return from school?
Believe in your bravery and your resilience. If the Taliban can frighten you away from an education, they will have won. Use every tool for healing that you can find, including writing your truth, and the knowledge you are loved and supported by family, and by total strangers such as me. Keep writing!
Your story is unbearable to read, yet you and all who were there have no choice but to bear it. Thank you for your immense courage in writing, so that all of us can stand with you as you suffer. Please know you are not entirely alone – we hear your voice and pray with you for an end to such brutality in the world. The voice of women is what is most needed in our unbalanced world, and your extreme courage to speak out is what will bring peace, in the end.
Your writing is so clear and precise, I’m grateful to you for being able to tell us about this horrific experience. Still, it’s hard for someone who hasn’t lived through such a thing to truly imagine it. This brutality.
My dear Arifa: I’m just in shock reading these details. I ache thinking of you going back to school in that place that has been so violated – a place that was supposed to be safe! I am very proud of you and I know that you will keep going. But what you and Alia have gone through is so traumatic, I hope you will be patient with yourselves, and no that pain and depression is real and natural. I pray for your healing and deep security. Love, Stacy
Arifa, I read your story and I am praying for your security. This is such a horrifying experience to bear, you all are so brave. Thank you for having the courage to share this story with us. I will keep reading and supporting this project
I tremble as I find the words to write. I jump as I read your words of fear. Your story dragged me in as if I was right there next to you in pain. Heroically you took responsibility, for not only your safety, but your father and your little sister. Your concern for her lead you to fight for your life. I envy your strength and fortitude to write this piece. I admire how you prioritize your education and I believe you will break the boarders of greatness. My prayers go to you, your family, and your friends.
You have suffered immensely throughout your lifetime; though I really can’t say that what you’ve suffered is unique; many people hardship similar or worse everyday. Regardless, you should feel proud for surviving that horrible tragedy- and staying calm- many people would have broken down in that kind of position. Though I will also admit that you may have been very lucky- I mean, what were the chances that both you and your sisters survived. Either way, I hope you’re currently doing well and that you had the courage to share this terrible story with us.
After reading this passage, I feel shocked by how dangerous the experience you have faced. I never imagine such thing can be happened in real life. Even though I never experience similar situation to yours, I still feel horrified while reading your passage especially when the gunman was shooting the innocent people and your professor died. That makes me think about what I will feel if someone who is close to me suddenly died in front of me, and I don’t think I can hide as much emotion as you can. I am surprised you can remain calm in such a dangerous condition and select the best choice.
This essay sends a very strong message for many reasons. The violence is said to have lasted hours and the fact that Arifa and many others had no choice but to endure the attack, exemplifies the merciless horror the Taliban puts people through, and the effectiveness of the Taliban as it took a very long time for their attack to be ended. Arifa’s resilience and unyielding attitude is expressed in the last sentence, “But I know that I am determined more than ever to continue my education, which will be my only weapon against Taliban.” This sentence is powerful as it shows that there is hope for the citizens of Afghanistan and that not all of them are going to be compliant. As long as people continue to rebel against oppressive powers, there is a chance of salvation in the future. I hope that you achieve all your intelectual amibitions and serve as an example for others in the country.
Your story shows the true tragedy that the War has on people. I, myself, would probably not be able to get through this experience. Thankfully, your writing is informing people all around us about the War and the toll it takes on people. The War in Afghanistan needs to end so these situations stop being a daily routine. As you said, “we think of gunfire as routine.” No place in the world should have gunfire as a daily routine. I hope you continue to write about your life in Afghanistan so that people can see the tragedy of life there.
After reading this passage of your perspective, it really showed me how much people are suffering.This event is horrible and the fact that the people had no escape and had to endure the horrible reality of how they saw many dead bodies is really terrible. It also shows how often violence occurs when it says that they were used to gunfire. It shows that the people there are accustomed to witnessing this violence and the suffering they have to go through. The fact that they think gunfire is usual is very sad and it really shows how different parts of the world are suffering.
I read your story and I feel really concerned about it. I find it disturbing how violence is so common over there. I’m really shocked with your story. Have you told this story somewhere else? I hope you get through all of it.
People are suffering that should stop its getting people’s family over
This essay sends a very strong message for many reasons. The violence is said to have lasted hours and the fact that Arifa and many others had no choice but to endure the attack, exemplifies the merciless horror the Taliban puts people through, and the effectiveness of the Taliban as it took a very long time for their attack to be ended.
That was really brave of you. Although I’ve never been in the same situation as you but you were so inspiring. My question to you is how are you getting through the accident and has it scared you. And my last question is how has the war affected you
I am awed by your strength and courage in writing this piece. Thank you for sharing your story.
Your story has touched the hearts of many. You’ve shown us the truth of what the women and men of Afghanistan face. How you spoke about what had happened to you truly shows how much courage you have in you. To many other people, what you have gone through seems to be impossible. I cant imagine what it was like to be attacked like that, much more be attacked to violently in a classroom. I am astounded by the strength you have. To be able to recover and move on form such a traumatic incident like that is amazing. I’m sure that many women out there, even those women in Afghanistan who don’t know about sites like these, are very proud that you have used your voice to speak on their behalf.
Just by reading your story makes my heart quake. I cannot have imagined how would I take action being in the same situation as you. Hearing about events like this happening on the side of the planet makes me feel heartbroken. A place that can be said to be so far away from me, but yet so intimately connected by the spirit. Fighting for education with my life is something that I have not even dared to think about, but other brave young women who have not yet begin the colorful part of their life are risking towards it. Arifa, thank you so much for sharing such of a thrilling experience that inspired so many of us out there!
Your story is unimaginable for me and is very powerful for everyone who has the chance to read it. You have so much strength and power for taking a stand and telling everyone about your experience showing people what goes on outside their bubble. Your story shows the reality of life. Every word you included changes many perspectives including mine. Hearing gunshots every day is a nightmare to me, allowing the reader to see the cruelty and actuality of the world we live in. A world where nothing is fair, just, perfect, or equal. A world in which many people live. Your last sentence gave me more perspective on your need to learn in this mess of a world. Stating that no one will stand in your way of you and your education is so powerful and beautiful because you show the importance of your future through that decision you made. Your unstopping passion for school and learning no matter what experience is inspiring. So many kids today do not take full advantage of school by not trying which can impact their future. But you state that no matter what you encounter that you will still fight for your school to better your life and your destiny. Your story allows many viewers to see a regular day of their life is someone else’s dream life. Thank you for sharing your story with the world and opening peoples’ eyes to see the truth behind an Afghan life.
To Arifa, your story is a tale that is hard to hear but one that must be told. In war, both sides inflict pain and attack each other out of ignorance but your voice reminds others that the only true cure for ignorance is education. At the end of the day though, you’re at war too. You may not be in combat on the battlefield but you are fighting every day, fighting for your basic rights and it is that fact that makes your message so much more powerful. You deserve the right to walk your streets without fear and the right to learn as much as your heart desires, something most people take for granted in other parts of the world. Towards the end of the article, I can feel the passion radiating from your words. It’s like all that others do to stop you is only making you stronger and empowering you to fight your oppression. At the end of the day, you and people like you will always win Arifa. Its young spirits like you that empower change. While others can promote violence and use any weapon the mind can conjure, they’ll never be able to crush the power of knowledge and the spirit of education within you.
I can’t even begin to imagine the terror and fear you witnessed first hand. The incident you describe is truly disturbing, and I admire your courage for sharing it with the world. No one should ever have to experience what you have been through, and the bravery you showed during those events is remarkable. Thank you for exposing the terrible and horrific effects of war and conflict on society and civilians.
I also commend your resolve to continue your education in spite of the events that occurred at AUAF. I couldn’t agree more that education is an extremely powerful tool in the fight against terrorism, ignorance, and I’m glad you decided to continue against all odds.
I would like to thank you for being able to share your story with the public. Being able to share your story is able to show others (myself included) what a difficult time the world is in. YOur words are able to inspire others to come forward and express their experiences to help others understand your pain, as well as, create questions for others to use to help advocate for the end of horrific things such as this. I personally want to say that you have been able to help me realize the suffering and sorrow that others go through every day, as well as, inspire me to try helping others.
Wow. This is one truly horrifying experience. I admire you for staying strong and sharing this to the world, as it will teach others the horrible experience of your own school, being attacked. This story shows a unique perspective of a school attack, and it makes it seem like you are actually there. Although nobody should experience this, I think that this justifies that school shootings are no joke, and this story should be taken to heart. You survived, despite all odds being against you. I am sorry for all of the people that died in the attack, and hopefully, they are in a better place.
Nobody should ever have to go through what you did. It’s saddening that anyone would stoop low enough to attack a school. Children shouldn’t be used to the sound of gunfire. A school is supposed to be a place of learning. People should be able to attend without the fear of being attacked. I am glad your sister is alright. You must care about her a lot. You’re a very resilient person and are very brave. By taking a stand against the Taliban, you’re helping empower other women and are change the culture of Afghanistan for the better.
As I was reading through your story, all I felt was shock, terror, and pain. This is a very terrifying experience to go through, and it is a very saddening one too. The Taliban shouldn’t be aiming at schools where students learn, and I also believe that everyone deserves the right to live and the right to education. My heart got broken when I heard that even students in the building got shot, especially when they still have so much more to do in life. Schools are places where students should be safe, where they learn what they want to learn, and have a chance at doing something great and change the world. I admire you for being very strong, brave, and still have hope even in the darkest situation. After reading, I felt that every single women and children out there need the brave-heart, the courage, and the hope that you had, and they are not as easy to have. You telling us this story really inspired us to be brave, to be strong-hearted, and to be mindful of what others are going through. This story might have been hard to write, because these are memories that even I wouldn’t want to remember, but it needed to be written because every single woman and child out in the world need to hear this story, the voices of the victims of these shootings need to be heard, and the hearts of every single person on this planet need to be strengthened. Again, you are such a brave, strong-hearted person to go through this terrifying experience, see blood, death, and grief around you, and yet, share this experience so that every single person knows that courage and passion, and education are the three things that we should not take for granted.
Your story provides evidence of the shocking, cold reality that some people must live through. I have never been through any kind of remotely similar situation like the story you described in your journal, so I know it would be impossible for me to completely understand the hardships, pain, and horror you and your family have gone through, this story has opened my eyes to a deeper understanding of the situation in Afghanistan. It is evident that life is “imperfect”, but to grow up with the feeling of terror intertwined throughout every day is just not fair. However, I do believe that making the best out of the situation is the correct decision. The last sentence in your paper truly resonated with me. It reminds me of a saying: “Words are more powerful than guns”. Something I truly admire is your ability to stay strong, despite going through such a traumatic experience. What I really like about your story is that it tells more than just a story. Through the actions you described in the story, it is obvious that you knew exactly how to act in that situation. Pretending to play dead and Although many people do not know the existence of this website, they would be proud to have someone like you speak on their behalf, sharing such a powerful, vivid, and inspiring message.
I am very inspired by hearing your story. Your story does not only show the dark and saddening events of the Taliban coming and attacking AUAF, but it also shows your courage and brave heart. These events should not be happening at schools, because they are places where students come, without fearing any danger, to learn and expand their horizons to better their knowledge and learning. I believe that every single person should hear this story. Though it may be very heart-breaking, it is still a very important message to every single child and student out there that education and safety are not things that should be taken for granted. I am very glad that your sister is safe, at the same time, I am very sorry that you went through this terrifying experience. Going through the horrifying experience is one thing, but to write about it and share the experience is very courageous and very much needed. Thank you for sharing your story and empowering every single child and women to face the world confidently and change it into a better, safer world.
Your story, though laced with the traumatizing events you experienced, was beautiful. As you narrated the horrific violence that left you terrified, to an extent I could never understand, you showed bravery and resilience. You chose to continue your path to an education and showed your overwhelming and endearing worry for your sister, despite being in a place of uncertainty. To be merely eighteen, facing what you did in a place that is meant to bring you a bright future, truly inspires me. You chose to never allow the attack to define your future in education, and that is truly amazing. Your story contains extremely traumatizing events that put me in awe as I realize the strength it must have taken to relive these moments. I will never understand how you felt in those moments and while writing this story, but your ability to portray your deep and saddening emotions throughout this piece only led me to admire your strength and courage. For hours, you were consumed with fear, worry, and most of all, courage, but you decided to endure that heartbreak again as you published this story. Thank you for becoming the voice for the many people who were there with you, or have experienced something similar. Thank you for inspiring me.
I am so inspired and pained by your experience. I felt fear for every student in the school, sadness for the fighting soldiers, and admiration for you sharing your story. It is truly evil for young students to be “used to” the sounds of gunfire, and I could not imagine the fear you must have felt. However I am grateful for this piece of writing. When you described your helplessness with your classmates on the ground, I felt so much pain for you. I also felt inspired by your determination to continue learning, even though just one day of going to school caused so much despair. I admire your courage to keep fighting for your life, not only for yourself but your family, because not everyone has the bravery you had while laying on the ground. No young student deserves to go through something as scary and traumatizing, and you made me realize that our education and lives are worth fighting every breath for. Your passion for school and love for your family truly opened my eyes to the uncertainty of tomorrow. Thank you for your courage to share your experience, because this story gives us courage to keep fighting as well.
As I was reading your story, I felt shocked and angered. Your story shows the true nature of the Taliban from the first-person point of view. Normally, we read stories in school and learn about the Taliban, but we never can never understand the extent of what people are going through. I think your story effectively showed this, with the detail and emotion you used. I could feel the terror that you had and you even showed your families emotions. It makes me think back on the hardships many women have and the fear that you have to live with every day. In your story, you mentioned something about gunshots being normal and you don’t flinch when you hear them. It makes me sad because of how accustomed you have gotten to the sound of gunshots. I believe that everyone should read this story because it truly shows the nature of school shootings. From the way families feel to the way the actual student feels. Being a young girl growing up, I am thankful to people like you that show how many terrible things happen to the world. I appreciate and thank you for writing this story because you have given women a voice and shown people the extent of the Taliban.
I thought you really did a phenomenal job in writing this article. Your article is very descriptive on what exactly happened and still happens in Afghanistan, primarily with the Taliban and scholars. I was able to vividly capture every single detail in your article, and I think it is fantastic that you managed to unleash your full perspective of what happened and your inner thoughts and feelings to the audience. With your perspective, I was able to understand more about the tensions going on in Afghanistan, especially all the shooting and other violence. Previously, I have simply heard that there were deadly shootings, and I would always sympathize for the fallen. But right after I read this article, I am now able to not only sympathize, but also empathize for the struggles many people had to and still go through in Afghanistan. I really felt emotional on reading how you were longing to see your parents and sister during the school shootout, and I can hardly imagine what that really feels like in person because I personally have not been through these scary events. It must have really been terrible for you and other scholars in Afghanistan to experience something like this, and this article exceptionally and successfully provides deep details.
Thank you for writing about your experiences. I was saddened by the fact that Afghan students felt the sound of gunfire was commonplace. When I read your article, I could feel your worries for your sister and your fear when the attack happened. I shuddered for a moment, as if the whole Taliban attack was a horror story. However, what makes me even more sorrowful and angry is that everything that happened in this passage was true. As a high school student, I always worry about school shootings. I can’t imagine what I would have done in that situation. What I admire more is that in such a dangerous situation, you still worry about your sister’s safety despite you’re under the threat of death. I may never be able to fully empathize with you because I haven’t really experienced all of this, but my admiration and awe are true from my heart. You have the strength and power that I could never imagine to determine to continue your education and use it as a weapon against the Taliban. Going through this trauma is hard enough, and you have the resilience to relive these moments and write this story. Thank you again for writing this article. Although I have not experienced what you have gone through, I gained encouragement and courage from your story.
I would like to begin by commending the strength you exhibited upon publishing this passage. Through your writing, you have provided individuals like myself with more insight into perspectives we may have not otherwise been aware of. Your carefully constructed words portray a duality – carrying fear yet the courage to continue fighting; if not for yourself, but your family and loved ones. Particularly, the scene in which you so elaborately depicted your own tears upon those of your sister’s made my heart yearn as memories of my own family were brought to the forefront of my mind. Despite the physical distance between us, I shivered as I read your account of a brutal and horrifying experience. With your powerful imagery and description, you not only educate your readers of realities that need to receive more attention but establish an emotional connection with them that forces them to re-evaluate their own respective experiences. As such, you motivate others to find the courage within themselves to share their own stories and further the strength of our community. I would like to commend not only your strength but your will and persistence in dedicating yourself to education in the face of your experiences. I hope that, to future readers, your writing serves as a testament to the strong-hearted, as it did for me.
The way you wrote the story gave me chills down my spine, it was as if I was right there in the moment with you. The way you described everything you felt, heard, or saw was truly beautiful as it felt as if there was not a single detail left out. I am so glad you were able to make it through that experience, if I were in your shoes I would have lost my will to fight on within a couple of hours, but you were able to keep on fighting to stay alive. The bravery and resilience you showed were truly admirable. On top of that, you were able to strengthen your resolve to fight against the Taliban using education as your weapon of choice.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m sorry for what happened. It must’ve been really hard going through something like this and living so close to danger. It really put things into perspective, how we’re sitting here safe from home while you hear gunshots everyday. But your resolve is really strong, how you still decide to go to school despite being the risks, and I find that the way you wrote your story, like the amount of specific details you choose to included, the perfect amount which makes the story truly beautiful.
Your work is awe-inspiring and truly amazing. In the United States, we often hear about the Taliban and terrorists in the Middle East, but we often forget the true human impact that they have on the innocent people in these countries. Your work beautifully shows the human impact and human suffering that are a result of these insurgents and the ways that average people in Afghanistan are impacted by the Taliban. Every last detail, from pointing out the times of when different events occurred in the story to the descriptions of the blood and the bodies of the soldiers that died trying to free you adds to the ability of your writing to share the fear that must have been felt, and contributes to the sense of solidarity that we develop. One part of your writing that really stood out to me was your observation in your last paragraph that would not be able to return to your school. This really shows that the impact of this attack was greater than the fear that you had to feel on that horrible night, but also that the post traumatic stress could have an eternal impact.
Thanks and best regards,
You are a warrior and your writing shook me to my core. It sent chills right down my spine and I applaud you. The heart you put into writing this really shines through and we readers get a glimpse into your life. Your writing made me feel as if I was in the position. It put knots in my stomach, wondering what would happen next. Thank you for having the courage to write about this heart-stopping day and exposing what terrorism is like. I pray that you and your family have found safety since then. Your writing not only captured the horror of this day, but it showed your love for your family. May you continue to share your experiences with the world.
Reading Arifa’s story, I could feel the terror through the words as if I were watching it happen. It was a truly horrifying event to have occurred. I, myself being back in school physically, would be petrified if this had happened to me. I couldn’t imagine what I would do if suddenly my school was under attack. To have to be lost and don’t know what to do, whilst there were attacks; shooting, and bombs literally right outside the room I was in, is unimaginable. It is really brave of Arifa to be able to have bypass fears and obstacles to write this story down. Reading the last line, I applaud and admire Arifa’s courage to be able to go back and fight back, with education. That is the right mindset, but a hard one, that not everyone might not be able to have done.
Hi Arifa, thank you for sharing your story and I am glad that you and your sister were safe through the attack. Your words are so powerful that when I was reading it, I could really feel the sorrow, pain, and horrification through the screen. And also, I want to express my appreciation for your courage that you wrote down this heart-breaking story since it must be painful to recall that memory. Winston Churchill had said that, “War does not determine who is right — only who is left.” I wish peace would come to Afghanistan soon, just like the rainbow shows up after the fierce storm.
Thank you for sharing your story, Arifa, and I am glad that you and your sister are both safe. It was so powerful that I could actually feel the pain, sorrow, and horror as I was reading it. It is impossible for me to comprehend the fear and terror you witnessed firsthand. The bravery you displayed in those circumstances is remarkable, as no one should have to go through what you have. I appreciate you bringing attention to the tragic and horrifying effects of war on society and civilians. It’s very hard for someone who hasn’t been through this to imagine this.
The one thing that stood out to me the most when reading Arifa’s story was a sentence in the first paragraph. Arifa said “growing up in Afghanistan, we think of gunfire as routine.” I was quite shocked because I have grown up so differently, and it made me realize how other countries’ “normal” is something we could never imagine. The idea that people could kill innocent students just because of their passion to learn is very upsetting to me. Not only that, the story seems very recent, making it even more real. I love that Arifa has not lost her passion to learn because of the Taliban. I hope that she is doing well right now and that her story will continue to reach more people.
-Arifa: First of all, I’d like to give you my condolences. No one in this world should have to experience such terror and atrocities, yet the harsh reality remains that young people must face this burden all too often. I deeply admire the bravery you displayed both during the attack and after. Your rational thinking, selflessness for worrying for your sister, and ability to stay calm in such an unfathomably terrifying situation are beyond impressive in my eyes. Perhaps more importantly, your willpower to never give up, to never have your spirit crushed, to continue pursuing writing and education in defiance of the Taliban is a truly valuable and empowering trait to have. From halfway across the globe, I regrettably admit that I cannot even begin to understand or imagine myself in such a terrifying experience. But I do know that I likely wouldn’t have shown the degree of strength you’d had. Without a doubt, you are strong, and don’t let anything or anyone get in the way of that strength.
This story describes your traumatic experience so vividly. It hits a little bit close to home because I have a sibling I’m close to myself and there is a constant (but low) threat of a school shooting in our country. I can’t imagine how numb and desensitized one has to be in order to intentionally murder so many people at a school, whose only purpose is to learn. What left a big impression on me from your story was the despair and the sense of resignation. I’m sorry that you must experience these things as an innocent student, that you had to be so familiarized with the sounds of gunshots, and the sight of death. It makes me feel in awe of your resolve to continue your education despite the trauma you experienced.
Words cannot express how sorry I am that you had to be in and witness this traumatizing experience. What seemed to be an exhilarating start to a new semester had turned into the tragic end of so many beautiful lives. I could never imagine what you had been through and the absolute horror that had struck your eyes. I hate that this happened to you, and it’s absolutely disgusting that some humans could be so low and put an end to other humans. Those inhuman monsters didn’t realize they took away children from mothers, parents from children, students from teachers, and teachers from students. I don’t want to talk anymore about what happened because it’s unfair for you to somewhat relive it in your head again. Arifa, you are amazing. You are one of the bravest women in this world. Not only are you a survivor, but also an informer. Thank you for sharing your story.
This story in particular touched me because, to see all of your friends and classmates, members of such a tight-knit community at school being shot down right in front of your eyes must be truly horrifying. Along with that, the resilience you showed in maintaining your focus upon your sister’s survival of the attack is truly admirable. Being forced to stay still for that long, unable to cry out for help, or move without the risk of death, being able to fight against such fears is really emphasized by the gruesome events that have been depicted. This story almost feels like it’s not reality, in that everything that happens throughout it is really beyond horrible, and to see humans committing such actions against other humans exemplifies the confidence it must have taken to write about and reflect upon such a traumatizing event. One thing that I truly admired and found inspiring at the end of the story, however, was when you said, “But I know that I am determined more than ever to continue my education, which will be my only weapon against Taliban.” Being able to stand in the face of the most despicable atrocities that can possibly occur, and still having the strength to rise above that is something that I really respect you for, along with all students experiencing these shootings and attacks. I hope that both you, Arifa, and everyone else has not lost their desire to learn and gain knowledge, for I feel your resolute determination and your ability to face these disasters are the traits that will be at the forefront of Afghanistan in the very near future.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am glad that you and your sister both made it out safe from the attack. Throughout reading your story, I kept imagining myself in your position, it made me sad at how hopeless you may have felt. What I found most powerful was the last sentence which I felt was the most impactful. It shows your persistence and bravery against the corrupt and oppressive Taliban. I could feel the sorrow and panic through the words you used, and I got goosebumps. I would like to commend you for being able to relive the events of that day to share it with readers like me, I can only imagine how must valor that must have taken. Even the small details, like knowing the specific times of events, tell me how much that day must have impacted your life. It opened my eyes to the harsh reality of life in Afghanistan that I’d only ever heard about. The fact that things like gunfire and war sounds were common occurrences in your daily life gives me a new level of respect for you and people who have gone through similar experiences.
I read both your and your sister’s sides of the story, and the poignant setting of the university and the contrasting violence of the Taliban and the police forces firing at each other define a side of the world that many people. I have so much admiration for your bravery and resilience against the attacks, despite being so close to death just for wanting an education, and for your grit to fight back against the Taliban by continuing your education and pursuing knowledge. I hope that you were able to pursue your passions and fight back against any oppression that came your way. The world needs to understand more about the situation in Afghanistan, and we need to show compassion for our fellow human beings.
Arifa, I just want to say that this must have been a very difficult experience for you so thank you for sharing. For myself, reading about this was eye-opening and left me speechless. I have often heard about schools being under attack but I don’t think I have ever felt it. Reading this was indescribable. I was feeling as if I was actually there, and that experience alone was absolutely terrifying – I don’t think I will ever be able to actually imagine going through this. And then going back to that same school, it must have been a dreadful, horrifying experience. To describe you as strong can only be an understatement. It’s hard to think that so many people have to experience this for something that every individual deserves to have a right too, an education.
Thank you so much Arifa for sharing this experience with us, it was very inspiring. It is truly a masterpiece, the way that your story captures all of the details of that day, along with the feelings and emotions you felt. Your descriptions of the event helped me imagine this situation, almost like I was a part of this experience. Despite it being such a hard time for you, you stayed strong throughout the entire situation, and even after this incident you still wanted to go to school, finding a way to push through all your barriers that might have restricted you. This story has opened my eyes to the rest of the world, and I really hope that you continue to stay strong, and change society with your wonderful words!!