(This article is based on a phone conversation with an Afghan woman based in Kabul. The Quint will be publishing many such oppressed voices of women from Afghanistan. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Sakina Khan (name changed to conceal her identity) was only nine when she lost her mother to a prolonged illness. Her mother passed away in 2000, due to lack of medical facilities under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, long before America's invasion.
Twenty-one years later, Sakina, now a practising lawyer, mother of two little girls, and a widow is forced to relive the past.
"I am just waiting inside my home...waiting for the Taliban to come any day now and kill me. I have no other choice," she said, speaking to The Quint, from Kabul.
Women and children have again become the worst casualty under the Taliban. An entire generation of Afghan women like Sakina are torn, as they see the spaces they rightfully occupied – like streets, offices schools and universities – shrink into nothingness.
They fear that their life will neither be spared nor be remembered in history.
'My Girls Will Not Live A Life Like Me'
Sakina says she is not scared of death as she knows her daughters will lead a better life and have a better future in a land away from their motherland.
Her five-year-old and seven-year-old daughters have left the country, along with her brother's family.
"It was the toughest decision I had to make. I did not hold them because my visa was taking longer to process. My daughters left just before Kabul was captured by these terrorists. I could not stop crying that day. But now, I am at peace. You know why? Because I can die knowing that my daughters are safe."Sakina Khan to The Quint
'Have Not Left My House, Neighbours Are Kind'
The 30-year-old lawyer, whose daily life revolved around her office, her daughters' school, supermarkets, and community parks, has not stepped out of her home in the last five days.
Her supply of groceries is dwindling – but stepping out is no longer an option.
"I used to eat my meals with two of my babies running around and creating ruckus. Now, there is a deafening silence inside my home and out on the streets whenever I dare to look out. The neighbours have been kind enough to give me food now and then. But for how long?" Sakina added.
Since she lost her husband to cancer two years ago, Sakina says she has been in charge of her money. But now she worries about being able to retain and have access to the hard-earned money that she and her husband accrued.
"I read reports that they are not allowing anyone to withdraw money. I don't have much but whatever I have is hard-earned. Will they let me, an educated woman, take my money? I doubt."
Sakina has seen ups and downs, periods of despair and hope. She has witnessed the success of women in her country every time they followed their dreams. And, she says, she herself is an example of what education can do to women.
But to her, the country has lost everything. It has lost potential, dreams – and most importantly, peace.
"I don't think there is going back anymore. Everyone has abandoned Afghans – especially Afghan women. We have no choice but to be collateral damage."
Does she hope she can still leave the country and join her daughters?
"It will be a miracle if that happens. Even if the visa comes through, how do I get to the airport without getting shot at?" she asks, bemused.