In 2014, I was drowning in depression because of my marriage and family issues. Although my high school offered undergraduate scholarships, both my husband’s family and mine prevented me from further studies. I was married, but not allowed to study, travel or make my own decisions. After marrying, the emotional and physical pressures were overwhelming. I escaped to my parents’ house many times. Every time, I would seek support from my family, it was not granted. They sent me back to him again and again. On one hand, my parents were not able to economically support our large family and taking me back added to their expense. On the other hand, it was considered a shame among our relatives for a married girl to be returned to her parents. I tried to explain my dreams to my mother, but she denied them by saying “You are now the wife of someone, you should do whatever he wants. After Allah and the Prophet Mohammed, a wife is responsible to worship her husband. His satisfaction is Allah ‘s satisfaction.” After my mother’s advice, I would stand speechless. I would think “I will never worship him.” I valued my worth as a human being and as a girl. I was not a slave and I was not a tool or property owned by a man. My parents would often call him without informing me and ask him to come take me back. I would cry and beg not to be sent back but it was useless, I was entirely lost between my dreams and reality. Day by day, my family issues were getting more severe. I could not imagine losing my dreams and school achievements, but it was difficult to see my parents’ so worried.

One day, I saw a flyer from the Afghanistan Golf Federation. I went to their office and the golf team manager explained more about this sport. I was very excited about golf, to hold a golf stick, walk miles and miles and hit a shot. But, I was worried about choosing to play outdoors. It was not a wise decision for a girl to play outdoor sports in a conservative society, a religious family which had on going marriage issues. I had been a sports fanatic since I was in school. I played volleyball and sometimes basketball as my physical elective. So, I decided to secretly start playing golf as a way to continue changing the negativity around me.

It was very complicated to join a team of 10 girls and 10 boys and to practice golf once or twice per week. The commute was an issue, also having male teammates was another big issue. I was obligated to wear long clothes including a scarf, and a hijab (normally worn by girls in Herat). I had to hide myself in a Hijab so that my brothers and my husband would not recognize me. If they saw me, they would have stopped me from playing. They would have made the wrong assumption, that I had joined a team which included male teammates. I had to be very careful and cautious on the way to the golf office and back home. At the federation office, all my teammates including the team manager would drive almost 30 mins by van to Pul Pashtun (a very old bridge in Herat) to practice golf. There were no golf courses in Herat. We had limited golf facilities and equipment, but our teammates were very enthusiastic. Our team manager promised to invite a golf trainer from Kabul city to help us improve our golf skill.

Golf became a doorway to a new life. I really needed a way to heal my depression. Everyday was fun, interesting, adventurous as well as fearful for me . No matter how, I had to hold onto my ideas and try my best. I stopped sharing my thoughts or connecting with my family. I only concentrated on solutions. I was like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.

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