Beheshta counts minutes
to reopening of her school

KABUL (Pajhwok): After a ban of nearly seven months on education for girls above sixth grade, Beheshta was thrilled by the government’s announcement regarding the reopening of schools. She, however, was told to stay at home until further orders.
Over the past 12 years, she has been among the top three position-holders, hoping that she would become a doctor to serve her compatriots. The day schools for girls reopened, Beheshta prepared for resuming her classes. As usual, she did not have much of appetite for breakfast and just sipped a glass of milk.
All of a sudden, her mother asked Beheshta: “Don’t go to school.” The girl wondered why she should not go to school. However, she ignored what her mother said. Instead she prepared her schoolbag, put on her shoes and left for school without saying goodbye to family members.
At each step on her way to school, Beheshta felt increasingly insecure. But somehow she tried to give herself confidence by ignoring her fears She usually took 20 minutes walking to school. She would feel tired on the way. But today she did not feel tired. While getting close to her destination, she asked herself what would happen if she could no longer go to school. What would happen to her hard work over the past 12 years and her dream of becoming a doctor? Her eyes well up, her voice becomes choked and she starts crying.
Meanwhile, her classmate Muzhgan comes close to Beheshta. But she does not want Muzhgan to see tears in her eyes. Wiping away her tears, she welcomes Muzhgan and both entered the school. The first period begins when the teacher steps into the class, writes the date — August 15, 2021– and the topic on the blackboard.
It was the day when the Ghani-led government collapsed, something that led to the regime change. Beheshta was, therefore, warned by her mother against going to school. Fighting had intensified one week ago and the Western-backed government of Ghani had lost much of the country to the armed opposition.
On August 15, few of Beheshta classmates came to school despite the presence of teachers, who were not interested in delivering lectures. As per their past practice, students started talking in the absence of teachers. But Beheshta and her classmates are silent, with fear gripping the environment. This situation is intolerable for Beheshta. Before getting silent herself, she shouted: “What has happened to all of you? Nobody is speaking,”
Later, the students start gossiping and talk about the closure of schools. Some say living without an education is meaningless. Others ask what would happen to their dreams. Several students believe the Taliban had changed and they would allow education for girls. They shared presumptions, but nobody knew what would really happen.
But all of them hoped schools would remain open and all students would be able to accomplish their dreams. By 11:00am, three periods went by but teachers did not attend their classes. Beheshta, who is the class representative, went to the principal office to request the teacher to come to the class.
She noticed that teaches were also gripped by uncertainty and concern about their future. Many of them feared they would not be allowed to work. She asked her mathematics teacher to attend the class. The teacher told Beheshta that she was not feeling well and was unable to deliver a lecture.
She returned disappointed to the class and told her classmates that teachers were in a state of uneasiness. Ten minutes later, Kaka Jamil entered the school — concern writ large on his face. He told Beheshta’s classmates: “Go back to your homes, the Taliban have returned to power.” The environment inside the class abruptly turns violent. Nobody knows what is happening. Some of Beheshta classmates cried.
And rightly so, they have witnessed a regime change for the first time. Dejected and tense, Beheshta and her classmates go back home. Beheshta returns home crying and no one including her mother could say anything to calm her down. Beheshta’s brother tells her: “This much education is enough for you. Education will not benefit you (girls).” But these words cannot stop her crying.
After three hours of weeping, Beheshta asked herself: “How long will I cry? I should care about my future.” She finally got used to a prolonged absence from school. Seven months have passed since the closure of schools. She sometimes does self-study at home, looking forward to hearing the news of reopening of schools. So far, however, she has not heard such glad tidings.
At the beginning of the solar year 1401, schools opened for girls and boys. She was so excited to hear the news she had been awaiting for seven months. It’s Tuesday night, March 23. Schools are scheduled to reopen tomorrow after a seven-month delay. All students are preparing for returning to school. At 10:30pm, Beheshta says to herself, “Go to bed to get up early in the morning.’ She thus fell asleep while thinking about school.
On Wednesday, when she got up, it was a different morning — she was getting ready, dressed up and finally left for school. She broke into tears while approach her school. However, these were tears of joy: At last she entered the school. She met her classmates and happily talked to them about the past seven months.
Then the teacher enters the classroom and everyone felt thrilled. But then the principal knocked at the door and said: “The ministry has announced not to reopen secondary school for girls until further orders. Now you can go home.” Everyone was shocked and had no idea what to do. Beheshta left the school along with other classmates — all deeply frustrated. She has since been awaiting news about the reopening of schools for girls. So far, it is unclear when the schools will reopen.