When the last international flight left Kabul airport yesterday, the Taliban celebrated by firing their guns in the air. This was the new normal atop the new normal. In a phone conversation with an Afghan theatre artiste, under the condition of anonymity, who awaits an escape from what his country has become, The Business Standard captures a snapshot of the ground reality in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
"The Taliban is everywhere. Since the last international flight left Kabul yesterday, they have been celebrating all around; there is the sound of loud explosions and open fire everywhere.
It was very scary and my family and I couldn't sleep all night thinking what danger was coming our way next. The Taliban are roaming the streets, openly brandishing their firearms. Its ok when they approach people to question them and ask for their ID. But if you approach them, you are dead. They are openly shooting at anyone who tries to go near them.
There are Taliban check-posts everywhere. They stop everyone they see. At this point, they are actively targeting artists and journalists. They often arrest people/pick them up from the checkposts. Most of the time they kill those they picked up or arrested.
They killed a popular traditional musician yesterday to send a message to others to stop all their artistic activities and practices, because the Taliban thinks it's anti-Islamic and haram. They are also targeting people who worked for the military, police forces or any foreign agency.
At this point I am hiding in my home. I am trying not to go out unless it's absolutely necessary to buy essentials for my eight-month-old baby or groceries after I have received the threat from them. I am a theatre artist, so I know how to change my look and I only go out in disguise when I absolutely have to go to a supermarket.
I am still trying to leave the country with my family. But now I am getting hopeless after the last flight left…I am still here, scared and anxious."
Disclaimer: The Business Standard has the record of the interview of the Afghan artiste. We are not disclosing it as his security would be compromised.