06 March 2005

Afghanistan, 10 June 1978 (20 Jawza 1357)

Three new decrees, the first two concerning the selection ofRevolutionary Council members and the third one the military court, were repeated hour after hour, day and night, on radio, TV, and even at the school assemblies. But still the new regime refused to release any information as to [my husband] Saleem's whereabouts. It seemed that he was a forgotten case, as if he had never existed. Most often, when I asked an official about Saleem, he would give me a dirty look, one that made me freeze for a second. I was treated like an antirevolutionary, with no rights at all.

On weekends (Fridays) I unfailingly joined the mass of people taking clean clothes, food, and other supplies to relatives who were thought to be imprisoned at Puli-Charkhi. I always tried to be among the first few in a very long line of people who were waiting there. The line increased throughout the day, and as time went on, it seemed that there was no end to this infinite queue of worried and miserable human beings. When the gate opened at eight in the morning, we each gave our package to the man in charge to be passed along to the intended recipient. Then we waited for a response. For some a note came back from their beloved one, along with dirty clothing to be washed and returned. For others, the package was kept for hours and then was returned with the simple comment "He is not here." I always hoped that someday they would give my package to Saleem.

The first few weeks after the coup, most of the visitors to the prison were from educated, well-to-do families; I could easily tell from the way they talked and dressed. But later all sorts of men and women from every sect and group of society could be seen: rich, poor, educated, nomads, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Kabulis, Kandaharis--almost every ethnic group of the country was represented.
SOURCE: An Afghan Woman's Odyssey, by Farooka Gauhari (U. Nebraska Press, 1996), p. 104

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