At this moment, amidst these challenging times, I realize that I’ll forever treasure the memory of a significant day—one that marked the realization of a long-cherished dream. It signified the culmination of a year filled with unwavering dedication, the very day when I stepped into the world of law and political science. The pride and joy of that achievement remain deeply ingrained in me. Four years ago, I began my educational voyage in the field of administration and diplomacy. Just as I neared the final stretch, during the seventh semester, the doors of learning and university abruptly shut for us all. I never imagined facing such harsh realities and limited circumstances, not even in my wildest dreams. My aspirations after completing my studies in law and political science were to pursue a master’s degree and to become a political journalist in a renowned media establishment. The intense passion I had for political science was the driving force behind my desire to become a political journalist.
My father’s dream was for me to pursue medicine and envision me donning a pristine white lab coat one day. His influence kindled a similar desire within me. However, while gearing up for the university entrance exams, I found myself increasingly drawn to political science, eventually dedicating myself to this path. It meant deviating from the intended course of studying medicine. Taking risks, I made the choice to leave the familiar grounds of my upbringing to venture into this new educational realm.
I’m the only daughter in our family, raised with an overflow of affection and blessings. They fondly refer to me as “Nazdana,” meaning delicate. Until then, I had never been separated from my family, never distanced from my mother’s comforting embrace. The journey I undertook was marked by its challenges, all in pursuit of my goal. I eventually found my way to Parwan University’s Law and Political Science department, determined to continue my education there. The initial semester was an arduous one, a time when I grappled with numerous challenges, refusing to yield to the difficulties I encountered alone, far from my family. Who would have thought I’d develop an attachment to a province I once disdained living in? Who would have thought I’d grow fond of a place I once considered leaving due to its distance and smallness? Back then, I yearned to swiftly complete my studies, akin to a released prisoner eagerly rushing back towards their family and home for solace. But now, all I yearn for is another chance to return, to pursue my studies at Parwan University.
I miss my friends, classmates, and companions, the ones who pursued the future together, sharing in the dream of a better tomorrow. Each one of them resides in my heart, their absence is felt keenly. I yearn for the echoes of our study sessions, those nights with hardly a wink of sleep, filled with jokes and shared laughter, moments of recreation, and the lively noises of early mornings. At times, I wonder: Could those four years have slipped by like a dream? Might it have vanished like a fleeting, sweet vision shattered by a sudden noise or a blink of an eye?
When I first heard about the closure of universities, I put on a facade of indifference, pretending that nothing out of the ordinary had happened, as if life was proceeding as usual. Perhaps I was attempting to reassure myself that this situation would be temporary, a mere tactic to intimidate us young women. But gradually, that pretense of indifference, like a stubborn mist, lifted, giving way to a sorrow that clings to me even today. It feels like I’ve lost an essential part of myself, gradually fading in its absence. As I saw pictures of my male peers celebrating their thesis defenses, their jubilant moments, my already somber day darkened further, pulling me into the depths of grief. Unanswered questions tormented me with every passing second, and there was no one to offer comfort, leaving my eyes wet like an unceasing, cloudy sky.
I once read, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” That saying now speaks volumes to me. I see myself as incomplete, grieving for a missing part, mourning its absence. Inequality is tough, but what’s even harder is dealing with those who forced this inequality upon us, unjustly and with false beliefs. They try to make our daughters believe they are weak and should confine themselves to home when they face a mirror, which is untrue. Despite the confined spaces, I believe we’ll hold onto hope’s slender thread.
I’m among many girls stripped of the right to choose, navigating a life that just keeps me from sinking into despair. Initially, nursing was my family’s recommendation, a field available to girls. Stepping into it, I’ve faced countless challenges, adapting and pushing forward with unwavering determination. Now, as circumstances steer me to this path, I’m determined to excel in my studies and aim to be one of its finest practitioners.
I won’t hide it. Nothing captivates me like law and political science. The intense passion I held and continue to cherish for this field can’t be substituted by anything else. But what choices do I have? Our lives, the lives of Afghan girls, are dictated by unforeseen circumstances influenced by others. We’re thrust into these situations. What matters most is our pursuit of a good life despite the constraints and limited opportunities imposed upon us.