My Future Shoes
A girl dreams of wearing black high heels and becoming a businesswoman helping others. First, she must embark on a long, dangerous journey to cross the border and leave her country behind.
August 15, 2021: the day of dying of countless dreams. For numerous Afghan girls, it meant the end of life.
It was the day that led so many people to leave their homeland where they had made wishes and goals for themselves. Among those hundreds of thousands of people was a girl who decided to chase down her dreams despite knowing how hard it would be. The decision caused her to hit the road, lonely, by herself, and leaving her loved ones thousands of miles behind. She just had her brother to accompany her at least half of the way to the Torkham border.
He couldn’t go with her after that because his name was not on the evacuation list.
You are right! That girl is me, and what you are going to read is my story. That day when my shoes led me to depart from Mazar-e- Sharif towards Kabul and then towards Pakistan, I wore a pair of comfortable, light brown sandals. They had a small metal clip and a stretchy fabric strap at the back which made them stay on my feet better. They were not high heels but flats. I wore them to be comfortable. The inner soles of my sandals caressed my feet. The soles were spongy and soft and had beautiful flower paintings. We were recommended not to wear white shoes, since the Taliban’s flag is white. If they had seen white, we would be in big trouble because they would find it disrespectful.
Those sandals led me to Pakistan. After a long time in Islamabad, I felt the approach of winter little by little. I had to get prepared, so I wanted to buy another pair of shoes that would protect my feet against cold, mud and water. This time I chose a pair of white sneakers with a platform, shoelaces, and a colourful plastic rainbow on each side. To me, the rainbow meant hope and happiness. Yes, I chose white! The colour we were asked not to wear before crossing the border. I bought these shoes after I crossed the border.
But the story does not end here. I want you to know why I left the place where I had set all my goals. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan, it meant the end of life for girls because the Taliban has never valued girls as human. Girls have never had the right to choose their future or to have goals for themselves. Under the Taliban’s laws, girls are not allowed to go to school. They don’t even have the choice of what to wear. I didn’t want to be the one whose only job would be staying home and staring at the ceiling.
I have imagined my future and it’s not what the Taliban wants. I have plans for what to do, who to be, and what to wear. My plan is to be a businesswoman who will be able to help other people spiritually and physically by being kind and rich, by taking the hands that need to be taken, raising the ones who have fallen.
So, my future shoes, which I will wear while walking confidently in my own company, will be a pair of elegant, black high-heeled sandals made of leather. They will also have a little lace decoration. They will be comfortable as well.
I believe people can achieve what they want by the power of trying and believing. I believe I will get to what I want because belief is the most powerful thing in the world.
Then believe in yourselves!
Fazila Alizada is twenty-two. She studied Development Management at Balkh University in Afghanistan. After the Taliban regained hold of the government on August 15, 2021, she had to flee her homeland. Her goal is to pursue her education in computer science and fulfill her dreams.
Portrait: Emily Zdunich with Fazila Alizada
From me to you
Acrylic, Pastel, Charcoal on Canvas
Size: 20” x 30”