Unfulfilled Dream: A Voice Rising Amidst Homelessness

By: Behnia

As the soothing sound of the violin fills the classroom, it mourns the unfulfilled dreams of Tamanna, a young girl in exile whose spirit now wanders the streets of Kabul. Despite her name, Tamanna’s deepest wishes remain unfulfilled. She had planned to play the violin on her day off from university, to cast off the burden of knowledge and let her music speak for her. She wished to play louder and more brilliantly than ever before so that her music could reach all who came to hear her. But it never happened. Her desire has now taken refuge in a land of technology and progress, where people sleep peacefully at night and step confidently toward their dreams each morning. Yet, Tamanna still feels like a stranger among them. They shake their heads and cast compassionate glances at her when they learn that she is from a place of conflict and fear, which causes her to shed tears.

Tamanna was 22 years old and a third-year Persian Language and Literature student at Kabul University. She had an unyielding desire to become a writer and had envisioned crafting numerous books with different titles. Tamanna and her family were forced to flee to Canada after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, leaving her hopes behind.

August 15, 2021, will forever be etched in Tamanna’s memory as the day her dreams were stolen. Widespread concern over the Taliban’s complete takeover of Afghanistan had gripped the city. Like many other young people, Tamanna could not believe that the Taliban had taken control so easily. As she made her way to the university that day, the city did not seem normal. But despite the chaos and fear, Tamanna attended her class as usual, determined to cling to the hope that her dreams were not yet lost.

Tamanna remembers the haunting silence that hung over the university campus on that day, with none of the usual laughter and chatter of students. As she entered her classroom, she found only four of her classmates huddled with their professor at the front. The professor’s words hit her hard: “You’ve lost your minds. Who in their right mind would come to university in these circumstances? The Taliban can reach us at any moment. How will you get back to your homes?” Tamanna’s bones shook with fear at the reality of the situation, and at that moment, she felt the weight of post-war trauma.

As Tamanna spends her final hour in the classroom, she takes in the sight of her friends and professor at the university. She sits on one of the front row benches, where she had always sat and daydreamed of accomplishing her goals. With a heavy heart, she bids farewell to the classroom and the academic environment of Kabul University, which had been her haven for years. Although it is difficult for her to accept the reality of the situation, she knows that she must. With a heavy heart, she heads toward home.

Riots erupt around her as she makes her way back home across the city. Stores and shops shutter their doors one by one. People scramble to find their loved ones who left for work that day, while others flee their homes. Amidst the chaos, she sees people running in a panic, and some have even stormed the banks. Soldiers, more scared than anyone else, can be seen throughout the city, unsure of where to find safety. The heart-wrenching scene of the city in turmoil is etched forever in her memory. “Maybe for the rest of my life, I’ll never be able to forget this scene, she says. “I wasn’t afraid of anything, but the pain and sorrow of leaving everything behind, including my dreams, still linger. And now, I may never be able to go to university again.” Despite her shock, she manages to navigate the chaos and eventually reaches her family with great difficulty. The terror that erupted in the city that day will always be with her.

Tamanna can’t help but wonder whether this is all just a nightmare or a product of her imagination as she moves. However, the harsh reality of the circumstance becomes more apparent with each step. This is a moment from the most tragic period of her life, not a dream. The Taliban are set to enter the city, bringing with them the threat of trampled freedoms for every citizen. Tamanna is aware that this is not the first time something similar has happened, and regrettably, history has done so once more. The bitter reality is that this cycle of tragedy and oppression continues to cast a shadow over the lives of Tamanna and her peers.

Nightmares haunt Tamanna in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover. Every day, she lives in fear of the night they will storm her home, damaging her spirit and mind. After two months of living in constant dread, Tamanna’s family finally decides to leave their homeland in search of safety. They embark on a perilous journey to Pakistan, but at the Torkham border, Tamanna is forced to relive the heart-wrenching scenes of the Taliban’s cruelty towards innocent people. She will always remember their savage intimidation and beatings, and she is aware that the trauma of those times will never really pass.

With a backpack containing a few books and two sets of clothes, Tamanna leaves her homeland and her shattered dreams behind forever. There is no hope for her or her family’s future because they have been crushed by the Taliban. The once-ambitious girl loses her drive and motivation and stops writing happy texts and reading philosophical books that had recently captivated her. “I realized that I would never return to those past days,” Tamanna reflects, “and that the previous energy and motivation in me no longer existed. That’s how it was.”

With her future hanging in the balance, Tamanna sets out on a journey with her family to an uncertain fate, spending over a year in limbo in Pakistan. After leaving Afghanistan, Tamanna’s mental state is shattered, and she finds herself unable to connect with others or venture outside. “I was just waiting in a room for our fate to be decided, directionless and hopeless,” she reflects. Finally, after months of waiting, Tamanna and her family are granted a lifeline – a chance to evacuate to Canada with other Afghan migrants seeking refuge.

As Tamanna arrives in Canada, she finds herself in a city unknown to her, unaware of its people and geography. The city is equipped with advanced technology, and its inhabitants live without the fear of war, suicide, or explosions. They sleep soundly at night and strive towards fulfilling their dreams without any hindrance. Everyone is free to live their lives as they see fit, with nothing standing in the way of them achieving their goals. In this land, women and girls are not confined but empowered to make their own choices.

Tamanna finds it difficult to relate to those who have not gone through the same kind of psychological and emotional trauma that she has. The first few days are particularly arduous for her, and no one can fully comprehend her yearning to rise above the painful events she has undergone. “I arrived here among people who possess a sense of inner peace,” Tamanna says, “having left everything I had behind. My aspirations and accomplishments, which were on the brink of fruition and leading me to a successful outcome, were taken from me. I arrived here with nothing but a wounded soul.”

For Tamanna, the only comfort lies in the compassion and empathy extended by the Canadian people. Their heartfelt gestures bring tears to her eyes and serve as a poignant reminder of her own plight and that of countless Afghan girls like her.

Tamanna has been homeless and dispersed for more than a year, and she is still wandering the Canadian streets with the hope of being accepted into one of the nation’s universities, which would allow her to take one step closer to her goals. However, she soon realizes that Canada’s strict laws make it challenging for her to achieve her aspirations. Despite this, Tamanna spends her days working in restaurants from dawn to dusk to fulfill her basic needs. In the evenings, she finds solace by playing the violin in her music community, sharing her peace of mind through the melodies she creates.

During the days of her exile, the violin is Tamanna’s only companion, its strings soothing the pain of her wandering. With closed eyes, she recalls the good old days in Afghanistan and envisions herself achieving her unfulfilled dreams, her fingers bringing the violin strings to life. As she plays, the sorrow within her resonates through the music, captivating her listeners who nod their heads to the rhythm, enjoying the beautiful melodies she creates.