Bitter Days


She had a soft voice and used Dari diction which I could hardly understand. Reciting her poems in the middle of each sentence, she told me her story. Her name is Taranom Sadat Seyedi. She is a poet, writer, and Afghan activist. She is a member of the leadership group of the Afghanistan Women’s Political Network. I am sharing her story as she had narrated to me:

It was September 5th, and on Sunday, I woke up and quickly got ready. I woke Rahila up (Rahila Jaffary, a former reporter and my friend who was residing with me with the arrival of the Taliban). She didn’t want to come at first, but I insisted, and she agreed to come.

Before any protest, before I said anything, I would read through my will and say goodbye to my family because I was going down a path that might have no return.

The goal was to oppose the unannounced visit of the ISI chief to Kabul and the drone attacks in Panjshir. The people of Afghanistan never allowed Pakistan to interfere or cross borders without official state-to-state protocols. But the visit of the ISI chief was more of a celebratory visit of invasion by the country with which we were previously at an undeclared war.

Women of Afghanistan could not bear the presence of an enemy in their beloved city without raising their voices.

We left at 9:00 in the morning and gathered at the street where the Pakistani embassy was located. After getting to that place, we noticed that a famous Taliban ​​propagandist and commander of Kabul, General Mobeen, and his men blocked us from standing in front of the Pakistani embassy.

The conflict in front of the embassy was raised when the Taliban started firing to disperse women. They dispersed the crowd by firing under our feet and in close proximity.

When they didn’t allow us to be in front of the embassy, ​​we chanted our slogans and moved towards the traffic intersection where the embassy staff could hear our cries. “Death to Pakistan,” “Death to Traitors,” “Death to Taliban.” And from there, we reached Shahr Nou. There, random city dwellers and travelers joined us. Women who were traveling in taxis and buses stopped their commute and joined us.

The Taliban lost control of the situation when the crowd was getting bigger. Exactly then, the world witnessed the violent behavior of the Taliban. They attacked us with whips and iron rods. Women started screaming. They hit us, and I was struck, and just at that moment, I told Rahila and the other girls to get in the cars and leave immediately.

Right after we entered the cars, our car was surrounded by a group of Taliban members. They grabbed the driver and beat him up. Their aim was to take everyone’s mobile phones and delete what we had stored on them. In the middle of the chaos and screams, I hid myself in the crowd, crossed to the other side of the street, and entered another car. We went around the park, then I called Rahila and gave her the address.

After a while, Rahila found me. We sat in the cab and left. I ensured that the other five girls, who had participated in the protest, were safely dropped home. After everyone was safe, Rahila and I went home. I immediately went to my room to change, where I felt a burning sensation in my back and a few streaks of blood on my shirt. I was wounded from the iron rod strikes on my back.

The wound and scars might disappear with time, but that day will permanently be imprinted on my life.

Taranom Sadat Seyedi
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Habiba A. Marhoon
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Habiba is the Founder and President of “The Liberty Coalition” a US-based NGO.


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