The Bengali Wife of Kabuliwala – A story of Sushmita Banerjee’s life

Sushmita Banerjee

This story is a unique story of love, betrayal and many more emotions which cannot be clubbed together into one. This story is of courage, sheer endurance and a fighting spirit. This story of Sushmita Banerjee, a writer, an activist and primarily an Indian woman who married an Afghan man from Kabul.

Back in 1988, the Kabuliwalas were too popular in Kolkata. It was one such year when Sushmita Banerjee, a young teenager from Kolkata fell in love with Jaanbaaz Khan, a Kabuliwala or a businessman from Kabul. The couple got hitched soon in a private wedding against her family’s permission and she decided to get to her in-laws in Kabul. Her book ‘Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou’ had received wide acclamation from the literature fanatics. She documented her life in Kabul in the form of a book.

When she first went on to Kabul from Kolkata, she was shocked to see that Jaanbaaz was already married there to a woman named Gulguti. She stayed in Kabul from 1988 to 1995. She lived in his village house in Patiya. In her book, she has documented daily extracts from her life. Khan had promised her that he will take him to Kolkata but never did so. She adjusted with his family for a long time. But after the Taliban regime started in the country, she felt it almost impossible to stay in Afghanistan. She tried to flee the country many times and was put under house arrest. She even started a medical clinic herself back in the village. Finally, in 1995, a Fatwa was issued against her name and she was destined to die. She thankfully fled the village with the help of the village headman and took a flight from Kabul to Kolkata in 1995.

She lived in India till 2013 and then went back to her in-law’s village to start her activism. She was murdered by the Taliban forces on a night. She was a celebrated writer. Her book ‘Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou’ was adapted in the form of a screenplay in the film ‘Escape from Taliban’, starring Manisha Koirala. She lived an independent woman who never regrated her life choices.

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