Before the Fall of Kabul.
I was in a restaurant having coffee, I went to a bazaar for shopping and we had a great gathering with friends just the night before the Taliban entered Kabul on Saturday.
The Taliban had already taken over more than 20 provinces but in Kabul life looked normal and when my parents, who live in Iran, called me to learn when I would leave, I told them they should not worry.
“The Taliban are here”.
On Sunday morning, August 15, before the Taliban seized Kabul, I went for my PCR test as I was supposed to leave Kabul for Istanbul on Monday morning. It was around 9:30 AM and I left home to go to a clinic in downtown Kabul.
I was on my way and the taxi driver told me to please go home. Everybody was running and they were all shouting: “the Taliban are coming, the Taliban are here.” It was unbelievable.
We could see they were taking over Kabul step by step.
It was Monday, August 16th, about 7 PM, the last time I was in my house in Kabul, on my balcony, which was the only place for me to heal and enjoy the view of Kabul city after work.
I left everything behind, all my stuff and souvenirs I collected from different countries and all my printed photos that were supposed to go to NYC for my next exhibition.
Deleting our profiles on social media.
Wednesday, August 18, passed with stress and panic. My friend’s mom tried to cook food while we didn’t have electricity, and everybody was trying to give us hope and reduce our stress. But nothing worked during that moment.
We, four women journalists, tried to delete our profile pictures and deactivate our social media accounts.
The rest of our day in Kabul was about calling and sending emails to everyone to see how they could evacuate us from Afghanistan. I got so many responses and it was more stressful when we saw everybody was trying to force us to leave. I got so many messages from everybody who knows me, and it was so sad; my mom was calling me every 10 minutes and she was crying and crying.
We just ate dinner without electricity and I made my bag smaller, and we decided to leave for the airport. I got some letters from the French embassy in Kabul, I had a US visa application and a Turkey visa on my passport, and I thought all these could be enough for evacuation. My brain stopped working and I couldn’t think and decide what we should do. Everybody promised us that they would let us know, but nothing was confirmed.
Leaving for the airport.
So, in the early morning of August 19, we, four women journalists, left home for the airport. We were there for over five hours. The Taliban were beating people. It was like a movie, with so many Taliban checkpoints in Kabul.
Leaving to have a voice.
I could not believe that, after three hours on our way, in the traffic and stuck among the people, we could get into Baron compound. We were there for one night and, in the early morning of Friday, 20 of August, we stood in the line heading to the airport.
On our way, I saw such sad scenes that I will never forget. People in line, on one side the Taliban were beating them and didn’t let them pass, and on the other side, foreign troops tried to control the population in front of the airport.
It was heartbreaking for me to see my people like this, and I didn’t know who to blame, the government, our leaders, the US or what. I was just hopeless. After so many gates, finally we got into the military airport around 6.50 PM in Kabul.
Landing in Abu Dhabi.
On Saturday at 4:18 AM we landed in Abu Dhabi. We went to a camp to rest and get ready for another flight.
Another migration, another disaster, another tragedy, a repetition of the sad history. August 21, 2021 was the day I left Afghanistan, my beloved land. I had returned to Afghanistan to show the unseen portraits of women and a bright side of my country and I had never imagined leaving my homeland like this.