Afghanistan, 26 March 1979 (6 Hamal 1358)

Our New Year came on March 21 and I don’t think people celebrated it the way they used to. School started right after the New Year. My daughter told me that a new subject, one hour daily, had been added recently to their curriculum. It was called itla-at, or “information” class. During this class the teacher asked the students about their homes, what went on there, what their parents said about the new regime and who visited them. This was a new wrinkle in the spy network that was spreading through the schools.

Rumors were rampant that even children had been disappearing from schools and the streets. The Marxists had supposedly taken them to special “indoctrination schools,” but people kept quiet and didn’t talk about their missing family members.

Both of my sons were going into the tenth grade, while my daughter was in the fifth. They were growing fast and making new friends. There were times when I felt so uncertain about decisions. I wanted Saleem’s opinion when it came to raising my children. One day Ali wanted to go out and play football with his friends but I wouldn’t let him. I was scared, I was scared even of my own shadow. I didn’t know who I could trust anymore. I was afraid that if I let him go and play, he would not return safely. I didn’t know his friends. Times had changed so much that I was afraid I might lose the children exactly the way I had lost my husband–and I wouldn’t be able to find them either. When I told Ali no, he cried. His tearful eyes were killing me.

SOURCE: An Afghan Woman’s Odyssey, by Farooka Gauhari (U. Nebraska Press, 1996), pp. 113-114

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