Memoir: A Saga of Love under the Hail of Fire


  • Soraya Baha



This short story is excerpted from a memoir entitled Raha Dar Bad (Los Angeles: Ketab Corp., 2012), written by Soraya Baha. Ms. Baha was the sister-in-law of Mohammad Najibullah (1947–1996) who served as president of Afghanistan from 1986–1992. Najibullah became head of the secret police when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan in the December 1979. He was infamous for his brutality and ruthlessness. He became president of the country when the Soviet forces withdrew in 1989, and his widely despised government was considered a puppet regime of the Soviets.  Ms. Baha was against the Soviet occupation, as well as the dictatorship of Najibullah. She ran away with her husband and their two children, Khaled, and Roya, and joined the war front in northern Afghanistan (Panjshir), where the famous partisan commander Ahmad-Shah Masoud had stationed his mujahedin forces. Masoud was fighting the Russians and led the largest war front in the mountains and valleys of Panjshir. Soraya Baha stayed there for some time in a small cabin with her two children. She later wrote her memoir and included this experience. The excerpted story below is based on true events that the author personally witnessed while in Panjshir.


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Author Biography

Soraya Baha

Soraya Baha was born in Kabul in an intellectual and progressive family. Her father, Saad al-Din Baha, was a political activist, poet, and writer, and one of the pioneers of the constitutional movement of Afghanistan. Because of his political views, he spent eighteen years in the dreaded prisons of the royal regime. Baha completed her studies at Kabul University in the field of National Economy and was married in 1975. During her student years, according to the custom in the intellectual society of Afghanistan, she gravitated toward leftist tendencies, but soon, based on what she learned about the leaders of the Communist Party of Afghanistan, she left and eventually joined its socialist critics. As a result, when the Communists came to power in 1978, she was forced to seek refuge in France and later in West Germany. She returned to her hometown in 1983 because of family connections and also because of her husband’s wishes, who was the brother of soon-to-be President Najibullah (r. 1987–1996). However, she opposed the policies of Najibullah, resisted his threats of arresting her and even assassination attempts on her life, and eventually fled to northern Afghanistan to join the Panjshir Front in 1987. At the time, Panjshir was the most important war front against the Soviet Red Army. Soraya immigrated to the United States in 1988 and today lives in Fremont, California. Soraya divorced her husband in 1996. She is a talented writer and analyst who has written more than a hundred articles about the politics and society of Afghanistan, paying special attention to issues that have oppressed women in that country.

Image 8: ‘Flower and Bird’ (2021) by Keyvan Shovir