“Soqoot:” A Voice from the Alleys of Kabul, A Story of Strength, and Hope

By Jamila Hussaini ’27

Contributing writer

My lovely Kabul, the city of my childhood,

I cannot see my magical Kabul anymore,

Feeling like a puzzle that lost its piece,

Are you that lost piece, my dear Kabul?

The spring in Trinity is bringing the memories of you,  

Reminding me how beautiful you were during Eid,

It was Eid, you were happier than ever,

Walking in your alleys,

It was sunny, the birds were singing,

Children were flying their colorful kites,

Everyone was wearing new clothes,

Girls were putting henna,

Smell of delicious filled the air,

From every home, love to share.

Eid made Kabul laughing,

Oh, that laughter was the definition of a perfect music,

For me being a part of Kabul was bringing infinite joy,

The joy I never felt after I lost my Kabul that day,

“That Day” is still in the darkest part of my mind,

Everything changed in a second,

I remember they took my Kabul,

With Kabul, they stole my everything,

My hopes and dreams,

Running to my room,

“Taliban, they are in Kabul!” my sister said,

Taliban, an ugly word in mom stories,

From the time she was as same age as me,

Five years from today,

Beneath our tree, where beautiful flowers bloom so fine,

My mom started to speak about something I only knew that exists,

“Mom, who are Taliban? my sister said,

Taking a full deep breath responding,

“The Taliban, dear child, an unforgivable part of Afghanistan’s history,

Where people suffered, justice lost its way,

Horrors ruled both night and day,

People were shot,

Women were stoned to death,

Girls were raped,

Children left alone their cries unheard,

Education stifled, like a silent word.

“I hope you never see them” her gaze intense and clear,

Realizing now,

Taliban were closer than ever,

They were a few feet away,

Looking from the corner of the door, 

I can see our alley is empty,

I never saw Kabul this silent,

The silence is tangible,

Feeling like no one is alive,

I can hear Taliban are passing with their motorcycles,

Holding weapons,

What is starting to happen,

My heart beating so hard,

My head exploding with the thoughts,

That never wanted to think about,

The city of my dreams just faded away in a few minutes,

It became a prison for me,

I felt that I never existed,

Every second was passing like years,

I wish it was nightmare,

But it was not, it was a sad reality,

I was a girl, making it even sadder,

I felt that I never existed,

They cut my wings to fly,

They put me in a cage called Burqa,

They stole my identity as a girl,

My homeland,

My education,

My job,

My freedom,

My voice,

My friends,

My happiness,

My peace,

My right to wear my colorful dress,

My right to walk with my friends,

My right to go with my family to picnics,

My right to play my favorite sport,

They took every small thing that made me happy,

The end of everything?

Writing this poem in my dorm,

In Trinity,

Thinking about,

How far I have come?? 

This poem is not just my feeling but the voice of thousand Afghan girls and contributed to all of them, specifically those who are in Afghanistan. Since 2021, they are prohibited from their individual rights and imprisoned in their homes. The school, universities, offices, and other organizations are closed for them. They are not even allowed to step out of their houses alone. The situation is getting worse and worse. But I am always proud to see that they did not give up on their dream and stay strong with these difficulties they have. 

Why am I a girl? A question that every Afghan girl asks herself at some point in her life. For me, it was when my uncle asked my father to stop me from continuing my education. I still clearly can remember every sentence from that conversation. I was preparing for Kankor (the national entrance Afghan students are taking to go to university) and he came to visit my father because my father was struggling with gastric cancer at the time. I had just returned from school and was holding my books.

“Who considers a girl as human? A girl your daughter’s age should get married and have children. There is no point in educating girls; they should stay home. If she was my daughter, I would burn all her books” my uncle said.

“My daughters always make me proud. If you just came to say this, you can leave!” my father said. 

I was very lucky to have my family support all the time. But, I still have the experience of living in a society where girls have been overlooked and disregarded. Being a girl has always been complicated in Afghanistan and comes with challenges of fighting for your natural human rights. After the Taliban takeover, it became even worse. Since August 2021, Afghan women and girls are grappling with increasingly restrictive regulations limiting their participation in all aspects of social, economic, and political life. These have confined millions of women to their home, restricting their important contributions to society. The schools, universities, offices, organizations are closed for them, and they cannot even step out of their homes alone. The condition of Afghan women is similar to that of a bird whose wings are cut off and put in a cage with no voice or freedom.

This poem reflects not just my feelings but the voices of thousands of Afghan girls and contributes to all of them, specifically those who are in Afghanistan. It is titled as “Soqoot” which means “collapse” or “falling apart.” Everyone in Afghanistan is familiar with this word because it was the first word used to describe the Taliban takeover and loss of our homeland. 

I was born and raised in Kabul, the capital and most populated city of Afghanistan. It was not a perfect and completely safe city for women, but there were worse places in Afghanistan for women. I loved Kabul; it carried all my sweet childhood memories and my favorite people. I was used to walking in noisy crowded streets, watching children play, women shop, girls and boys go to school. Therefore, the time I realized everything was gone with the Taliban takeover was when I found Kabul silent and unhappy. This spring in Trinity is reminding me of my homeland and brought my memories back.

I stayed in Afghanistan for nearly two years after the collapse of the Afghanistan government. The moment that Taliban came to Kabul would never leave my mind; it was the time I felt empty and invisible. I know that every Afghan girl has the same feeling, and I am happy to be able to reflect a small part of this feeling in my poem.

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