The Green, Spiny-Soled Scrub Shoes
This story is about a pair of green scrub shoes. It illustrates how important they were to Faradis’s life as a medical professional. It speaks to how her career was interrupted suddenly by the power transfer to the Taliban in 2021. Her story reflects the calamity that girls and women are enduring at this very moment in Afghanistan.
The first time I stared at them, they didn’t look very cosy. I had to choose from different sizes of the same shoes, lined up inside the broad and very clean cupboard. After I was done putting on the green operation theatre’s scrub suit and my individual white disposable hat, I finally chose one of the pairs of shoes that was as close as possible to my foot size. Then I decided to put a tag on them so they could be identified easily among all the shoes that were the same shade of green.
The shoes were green entirely, with spiny soles and flat low heels. They were covered in firm plastic except for an aperture on the back. Those days, my routine consisted of night shifts, morning shifts, and hard exam days at the university. I couldn’t possibly undermine the meaning of my green scrub shoes during long work hours at the hospital—as I was training to become a doctor in Afghanistan.
My shoes became a companion, mate and associate. They were robust and amiable. They were with me when I was running toward patients, running for help, asking for assistance to save patients’ lives, walking around and riding it out, acting firmly and staying hopeful for injured and sick compatriots. Sometimes my shoes supported me through long hours of standing for procedures inside the surgical room.
I’m calling for the shoes that helped me inestimably and accompanied me immutably. But I could not bring them with me here—out of war, out of inequality, out of a place where girls are not breathing as humans, a place where they have no right to study, no voice, no freedom of choice! In the meantime, I have no doubt that the shoes will assist other health professionals as they alleviate pain and aid in fixing the injuries of my compatriots.
Dear green, spiny-soled scrub shoes, I promise to carry on, hold on, and practise medicine decisively by your goal and maxim.
Faradis Ahmadi has a BSC from Kabul University of Medical Sciences. She was pursuing her MD degree while also working in a surgical centre when Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021. Her journey towards becoming a physician was cut short. Currently, she is in Toronto and trying to re-establish a career in the healthcare field.