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AFGHANISTAN: I Am Safe, But What of My People?

Kamila Geethi
Posted September 8, 2021 from Afghanistan
Evacuation from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Photo © Reuters Pictures.

Mourning the loss of her homeland, Kamila Geethi recounts leaving Afghanistan behind to escape Taliban rule. 

“For a moment, I felt I had fallen unconscious, that I had left my heart, my organs, and all my life behind.

Editor's Note: This story is part two in a series. Read part one here and part three here.

Just months ago, life was not perfect in Afghanistan, but I was hopeful. I was hopeful that my homeland would bloom with peace and safety. I was hopeful when I saw women and girls in the streets in their colorful dresses, breathing freely. I believed I would see a prosperous Afghanistan in my lifetime, and I was committed to working for my people until my last breath.  

In those days, not too long ago, I was hopeful but I was also worried about my country falling into the hands of those who do not have sympathy in their hearts for human lives. Years of emigration have left scars on the hearts of every Afghan, my family included. Just weeks ago, I was planning a trip to visit my friends and family in Pakistan, and I looked forward to hugging my parents tightly.

But then, everything changed on Sunday morning, the 15th of August. My country, my home, my dreams, my wishes, my sisters, my brothers… all fell into the arms of wild cannibals. 

My roommate rushed into our apartment. “Taliban, Taliban, Kamila sister!” she yelled. “The Taliban are here on the roads, with tanks, weapons, and their white flags. Kamila, close your laptop, close your documents, they are in the street.”

In a matter of hours, my city, Kabul, was cloaked in fear. Restaurants were empty. There wasn’t a single sign of women or girls on the roads. The streets were choked by silence. My people began packing up their lives, their dreams, their everything into a single bag. I felt I had been living in a beautiful dream, and when I woke I found myself back in the ‘90s. It was not only Afghanistan that collapsed that day, but hope. Millions of dreams, millions of hearts broke into pieces.

I am the first girl from my hometown to complete her higher education. I fought against the odds to build a life and career, but on the 15th of August, I had to burn all those achievements to save my life. The Taliban were violent from day one in Kabul. They searched for women in professional jobs, for any women working with foreigners. They entered the apartment neighboring mine to beat the women who lived there, women who were former police officers. In a matter of hours, my home was a danger zone for me, my sister, and my roommate.

In the week we spent living under the control of the Taliban, we felt as if we were already dead. There was no hope, and we felt we could not breathe. We were imprisoned in our home. I wanted to fly far away, somewhere where no one talked of war, where there would be no signs of bombs or bullets.

I was lucky. I had worked for an international NGO and was shortlisted for evacuation to Spain. Getting to the airport, however, was to play with your life. The moments I spent on the way to the airport are the most horrific moments of my life. Thousands of families had rushed the airport doors, desperate for any possible way to save their lives. Their fear of the Taliban could be felt in their eyes. 

I saw children dying, elderly people dying under the feet of the crowd. The Taliban shooting and beating people. I thought that day was the end of my life; I thought that day was the end of the world. For the world watching those scenes, I hope they saw the betrayal in the faces of the Afghan people, the betrayal they felt at the actions of their leaders and world leaders.

It took all our strength to get inside the airport, to reach the Spanish military. I could not stop my tears. For a moment, I felt I had fallen unconscious, that I had left my heart, my organs, and all my life behind. I was leaving my homeland, my Afghanistan, the place that needed me most — I felt I owed it a hundred lives. 

For me, after 48 hours in that airport, I was free, I could resist. I could still breathe. I was able to save my life and also my sister’s. But I think of the mothers who lost their babies in the womb, the children who lost their lives, the people who were injured and experienced a trauma they will never be able to forget. In a matter of days, millions of lives lost, millions of dreams, professions, businesses, investments — lost. 

I am now in Europe, among kind and protective people, but my heart is pained for the people left behind: for my colleagues, for friends, for my relatives whose lives are in danger. I mourn for the women whose achievements have been disregarded and cast aside. I mourn the loss of military lives who died protecting Afghanistan, who were sold out by our leaders. I mourn for the children who will never see peace. 

Motherland, Afghanistan. Homeland, Afghanistan. Loveland, Afghanistan. I am sorry I left you. I will come back one day to clean your tears. I will collect your pieces in my arms and treat you with kindness and show you love.


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Comments 9

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Nini Mappo
Sep 09
Sep 09

So heart-breaking Kamila:/ I can feel your heart breal over and over again. I can feel hope crushed by despair. The longing, the guilt of reaching safety because everyone should be safe. Oh sister I don't know how to comfort you:/
I pray that those left behind will miraculously stay safe, and that you will find inner peace somehow. We too grieve for your homeland, and hope against all hope that the Taliban will one day be decimated, and the Afghan people can own their homeland.

Sending you the warmest hug I can muster and a splash of sparkles to cheer you up.
Nini

Aparna Sanjay
Sep 09
Sep 09

Kamila, your story and those of millions of others is heartbreaking. I hope one day your beautiful homeland will find peace again.

Mary Ero
Sep 10
Sep 10

I am so sorry about what you, your family and the people of Afghanistan are going through. No matter how many news stories we read about the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, or watch on television, the horror is present and overwhelming.

You're in my prayers, Kamila, but more importantly I hope Afghanistan stays on the top of the mind of the world so the people's voices can be heard.

Tamarack Verrall
Sep 11
Sep 11

Dear Kamila,
Your story is a precious document of news the world needs to hear, news that we need to know and repeat, so that the reality that you describe here is never forgotten, never set aside. The reality of this horror that women in and of Afghanistan have been forced into, must be the opening of every discussion, of every move forward from August 15th. I celebrate your safety now in Spain, I mourn what you have lost, I will never forget or stop speaking out about what women are experiencing now in your beloved home country. It is so good to know you are safe, and so important that we have your news and information, so that we can keep what is happening, known.

Kamila Geethi
Sep 17
Sep 17

Dear Tamara,

I would only appreciate the words of encouragements and solidarity every single one of you share with me, but I would urge you to share this with your network so that the chain doesn't stop here. We need the world to hear and listen to the voice of Afghans.

Humans lives matter, Afghans lives Matter!!

Warm regards,
Kamila

Tamarack Verrall
Sep 17
Sep 17

Dear Kamila,
Many women are continuing to call out about what is being done in your country, and we will not stop. It must be spoken every chance we find. We do not accept any form of violence toward or imprisonment of women and girls, in any way. May we all continue to raise our voices.
In sisterhood,
Tam

Olutosin
Sep 15
Sep 15

I feel so sorry.
This is a very sad situation.

Kamila Geethi
Sep 17
Sep 17

Dear Sisters,

You might know that I am not living in a normal circumstances, I have limited access to internet and my laptop but as soon as I get a chance I review your messages, comments and listen to your love and affection you put in those messages, much appreciated.

My extended message for my sisters,

My dearest sisters, We are given a voice to shout out for justice and peace, we are given hands to write, to work and implore humanity and good works for the human beings, we are given hearts not only to breath but also feel other's pain and vulnerabilities, we should not forget the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan, I urge you to speak louder than before for your sisters in Afghanistan!!

Thanks,
your sister, Kamila

Manasa Ram Raj
Sep 21
Sep 21

Dear Kamila, sending you so much love and strength! What is happening there is utterly heartbreaking. You are in my thoughts. The women of Afghanistan are in my thoughts! We won't stop speaking for you all and praying for you all. I don't have the right words to comfort you, but please know that we are all here holding you close to our hearts and holding you in our arms!