From the outside, for an average Afghan, life doesn’t seem to have changed much, if you are not a woman or a former soldier, more so for a middle-aged man. However, the changes a single morning can bring in someone’s life is evident through the story of Amin Arman.
Arman is an average Afghan man and even in the absence of Taliban’s repressive policies, he is currently living in one of most horrific conditions for a human being. One of the most striking things to have happened to Arman is the loss of his employment and the struggle to find a good job under the Taliban regime, thereafter. Another occurrence which stresses his mind, day in and day out, is the future of his wife and his sisters, which currently under the harsh reign of the hard-line Islamists, seems bleak. Being the eldest son in the family, Arman has had the difficult task of shouldering the responsibility of his family when everything fell apart on August 15, 2021.
What began as a normal day, working from home, for this former journalist ended up filled with anxiety and uncertainty. “My wife was outside and when she came home, she said that the Taliban had reached the city and people were scrambling to safety. I searched through social media to check the current status of the war as we had been hearing about big and small towns and provinces being overrun by the Taliban, however, we didn’t think that Kabul would fall in less than a day,” said Arman.
Arman and his family hid inside their home in hopes of deciding what to do next, all the while trembling as explosions could be heard every now and then. They witnessed residents rushing to the airport to be evacuated from their window. “Everything fell like a pack of dominos… Kandahar, Helmand, Nimroz, Sar-e Pul, Ghazni, Balkh, Herat… in all the provinces, security forces retreated without any fight and gave their place to the Taliban. Now, everyone was reminiscing the terrible memories of this group’s first reign and its atrocities,” recalls Arman.
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The father of two children, Arman, stated that for two full weeks, their family stayed inside their homes with little food for survival and almost no hope for the future, binging on news for current updates. As Arman recounts the horrific days, his breathing becomes heavier and he calls it the darkest days of his life. Many like Arman, had not been full witnesses to Taliban’s previous rule as they were toddlers, unaware of the world around them, but the pages of history books were enough to educate them about the draconian rules and pathetic life under Taliban 1.0.
Along with human rights being stifled, the 30-year-old daily-wage labourer says that people also have to deal with unemployment and making ends meet as a daily struggle. “The work situation is very bad and if there is a job, the salary is very less. Our family can’t even cover our daily expenses and this despite the fact that I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism,” decries Arman.
His family moved to a province closer to the border and away from the expensive capital city life and prying eyes of the Taliban in order to work together with his brothers. “The situation in this province is not better than Kabul. Even before the arrival of the Taliban, the work here was not good, and now, the situation has worsened,” he adds.
Arman added that although he had faced problems before because he was a Hazara, the challenges have increased after the takeover of the Taliban. Unemployment, no attention being given to education and diminishing rights of girls have caused extensive worry for Afghan families, he said.
Mind you, Arman had been a very hopeful Afghan with the 20 years of progress he had seen under the previous regime. He had dreams of a peaceful, prosperous and bright future for his wife, his kids and his family, which all came crashing down in the past one year under the Taliban regime. “In my family, the women have always been educated and worked along with the men with equal rights, now, they are confined to the four walls of their homes and rarely talk about their future,” says Arman.
Like many citizens, Arman’s family too tried to leave the country, however, their poor economic situation prevented them from leaving. “The current situation is clear to everyone and it is bad. When I recall the good days, it seems like a dream now. When I see Hazaras, Uzbeks and Tajiks, their lands and houses being usurped forcefully, I feel despair.”
At least 14 years ago, Arman had immigrated to Iran for work due to the bad economic condition of his family. However, he returned to support his family and his country. Now, after years of building a successful life for himself and his family, he believes he has lost everything in the past one year.
Arman, a regular Afghan, doesn’t expect the Taliban regime to be any different from the previous time. “The Taliban occupied Afghanistan by spreading blood and turmoil. They were bad news 20 years ago, they are bad news today too, but even during the past 20 years of the Republic government, they continued with violence. I do not think they will change in the future. When you look at the images from the airport of the evacuation, you can clearly see fear and panic in the people’s eyes. Those were the saddest pictures in the world for me… when people lose their right to life,” concludes Arman.