This artist who escaped from Afghanistan to India years ago narrates his story to Humans Of Bombay recalling his past experience as Afghanistan is under the rule of Taliban once again.
This Kabul native recalls how, in the past, Afghans didn't hesitate to sing in the streets and women aspired to be leaders. The sound of a Rubab would fill the Kabul streets in the evening. He dreamed of becoming an artist at a very young age. Honing his skills at 20, he held his first exhibition.
But in 1996 the Taliban took over.
We’d hear stories about women being abducted, men being hung at crossroads. Then my aunt’s entire family was killed; their only crime was stepping out post curfew...
He and his family went to Pakistan when they realised they weren't safe. For five years, they moved around from camp to camp. Then they learned of the Taliban's fall, and they rushed back to Kabul.
My city looked like a ghost town, still, we felt safe.
Fortunately, art became more established throughout time, women progressed to leadership roles, and he began teaching art.
But their happiness was short-lived, as the Taliban began their abductions again.
They once showed up at his office and threatened him in front of the kids, saying, "Yeh kaam haram hai."
Then they beat me till I couldn’t stand & even followed my son after school; I knew we couldn’t live like that.
So, he decided to apply for an Indian visa. His mother and siblings, on the other hand, refused to go. 'Kabul is our home,' they claimed. He tried to convince them, but they were adamant.
He moved to India four years ago and as anticipated, circumstances in Kabul worsened despite the presence of US troops.
His office was burned down a year after he left; his brother narrowly escaped. His ammi would still say, ‘Things will get better'.
A week ago, he got a frantic call from his brother–
It's all over for us. It's just a matter of time till Afghans become slaves in their own country.
In his next call with his brother, he learned that his niece had been expelled from school. That was three days ago, and they haven't communicated since. Every 30 minutes, he attempts to contact them, but to no avail.
The men who call themselves 'Allah's students' are erasing what Allah stood for–art, music, freedom. I've lost sleep thinking about how little girls & their dreams will be caged.
His sole thought is that if the rest of the world is observing, how can they allow this to happen? Or is it just that people read the news today and then forget about it tomorrow?