As Told To: The Flight From Kabul


Two weeks in the past, we had a movie competition for brief avant-garde movies in Kabul. Four hundred folks have been there. They have been dressed usually, like European artists, in denims and bras and T-shirts. People laughed, sang, smoked, watched movies. We didn’t know that all of a sudden, inside days, all the pieces would collapse.

Sahraa KarimiIllustration by João Fazenda

It was actually regular life: women walked within the streets freely, they usually went to espresso retailers. One of the beauties of Kabul is watching the ladies stroll to high school. Their uniform is a white head scarf, and the gown is black. I all the time say, I hope that we are able to see this picture endlessly, you understand?

The Taliban was in different massive cities, like Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, however they weren’t in Kabul. We thought that our Army would defend us. We have been chanting, “Allahu akbar, God is great,” simply to protest in opposition to the Taliban. We have been chanting to assist our Army forces. I didn’t consider that the Taliban would come. Maybe I’m naïve. I don’t know.

I’m thirty-seven. I used to be born in Kabul, I grew up in Iran, and immigrated to Slovakia to check. When I completed a Ph.D. in filmmaking, I made a decision to return to Afghanistan. I assumed that it’s higher to be telling tales from my very own nation than to be in Europe and make tales that aren’t very near me. My movie “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha,” a narrative of three girls in Kabul, performed on the Venice Film Festival in 2019.

On Sunday, I wished to go to the financial institution and get money. I made my espresso and ready myself: I placed on lipstick and a really quick gown. I took a taxi. Traffic was dangerous. At the financial institution I noticed perhaps 5 hundred folks. Around fifty have been girls. You might perceive that there was one thing occurring: the financial institution was filled with worry. The teller stated, “There is no money—we are waiting for the central bank to send us money.” Suddenly, the gunshots began. And the supervisor of the financial institution advised me, “The Taliban is inside the city. They’ve surrounded us. You should go home.” He stated, “If they know you, they will kill you.” I’m well-known there. He confirmed me the again door, and I began to run.

I used to be working, and in the midst of my working some folks made enjoyable of me, particularly the boys: “Oh, the director of Afghan film is running! She is afraid of the Taliban! Ha ha ha!” I used to be stunned. Some women have been simply strolling. I stated to them, “Why are you walking? The Taliban is coming!” And they began working, too.

At residence, I seemed out my window, and all the pieces was calm. Still, I stated, I’m going to the airport. I had spoken with my good friend Wanda Adamík Hrycová, the president of the Slovak Film and Television Academy, who advised me she’d ask the federal government of Ukraine to assist.

I packed a few of my issues—garments, iPhone, toothbrush, seven books. I attempted not to take a look at my work, as a result of I knew I couldn’t take them. I left them behind, together with my library, a tough drive with three thousand movies, all my make-up, 4 birds. All I left behind.

My cousin confirmed up in a black American pickup to take us to the airport. Twelve folks, eight suitcases: two colleagues, my brother’s household. Five youngsters, all women—twenty, fourteen, eleven, seven, and two. I advised them, “You are going on a very interesting journey. You should be very strong.” I used to be crying.

At the airport, there have been an enormous variety of folks ready for flights. You might see one thing of their faces: they have been afraid. We wished to get to the airplane, however folks pushed forward. No one checked passports. The airplane took off, and we couldn’t catch it.

I contacted my good friend Wanda, and the Ukrainian authorities communicated with the Turkish authorities to insure that there can be one other airplane. But on the airport they advised us, “There are no more flights. The only flight is for Americans.” The youngsters have been so drained. At round 5 A.M., the Turkish authorities picked us up and took us to the navy a part of the airport. We noticed all these officers—virtually all of our authorities was there! Three hours we waited for the airplane, after which one other three hours contained in the airplane. There was a crowd outdoors that wouldn’t let the airplane take off, a thousand folks. The airport was completely open, as a result of everybody who labored there had left. At the civilian a part of the airport, folks swarmed the planes’ wings, the wheels, the highway. It is a well-known {photograph} now.

They are regular folks. The American Army lastly pushed them out with this massive machine—the machine they use in battle, an armed car. They simply pushed the folks out. The day after we departed, three or 4 folks have been killed; these folks simply wished to get on the airplane, too.

That second of my leaving, I used to be in tears. I like Afghanistan. Next to me within the airplane my brother was very sick. He was shaking, with a panic assault. I used to be holding him. I noticed our metropolis get far, far, and extra far-off. ♦



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