“For Gulandam, I abandoned my religion”
A love story of a Hazara and Pashtun couple and the Taliban prison.
On a sunny day amidst the hustle and bustle of the taxi station, Rajab and Gulandam sat calmly on the taxi seats with their four children. After 18 years of pursuit and escape, they hoped to reach a safe place. However, before the car could start, armed individuals appeared around the vehicle and ordered Rajab to get out. Gulandam sank into deep fear because she knew that her brothers, like shadows, were pursuing them with the help of the Taliban. The armed men, who were members of the fifth police district of the Taliban in Kabul, put a black bag over Rajab’s head and made Gulandam, along with her children and elderly aunt, who planned to go to Pakistan with them, board a military vehicle and took them away.
Rajab and Gulandam are a couple from the Hazara and Pashtun ethnic groups who succeeded in getting married in 2011 after five years of imprisonment and struggle in the courts. Rajab is 50 years old, and Gulandam is 38. Both of them originally come from the Daulatabad district in Balkh province, and they have been relentlessly pursued and threatened for the past 18 years since they decided to get married.
In 2006, Rajab and Gulandam lived in two neighboring villages named Elang and Dorman Afghaneya in the Daulatabad district, Balkh province. The residents of Elang village were Hazaras following the Shia sect, while the residents of Dorman Afghaneya village were Ali Zai tribe members from the Pashtun ethnic group following the Hanafi sect. The families of Rajab and Gulandam had close relations for about 50 years, and due to the proximity of their agricultural lands, the Hazara and Pashtun families in these two villages had established close ties.
One afternoon in the summer of 2006, when Gulandam returned home from a wedding ceremony in the village, she noticed the presence of several guests who were talking with her brothers. Gulandam tried to find out what the guests and her brothers were discussing. One of her brothers said they were discussing agricultural lands with the guests and didn’t allow Gulandam to bring tea for the guests or engage in conversation with them. That evening, Gulandam was informed that the guests had come for her marriage proposal, and her…