"After the interview," explained Malalay through a translator, "I was beaten in a graveyard … I was beaten by a steel cable on my head "
Fatima, the pediatrician, said the Taliban were stalking her house and her life was in danger. She and her family moved, under cover of night, from house to house to stay one step ahead of the religious police. She tried to continue practicing medicine for foreign aid organizations, behind closed doors. But the Taliban began to close in.
"I really thought that it's time to leave the country," she said. "And I can tell you it is the most difficult decision to leave your home."
The Taliban couldn't find the identity of the other women, but they did track down the drivers who brought them to the interview. One man was arrested and tortured as they tried to get him to reveal the women's names. He was beaten fiercely for hours straight. His body was broken, but not his silence, which may have saved the women's lives.
When it was time to say goodbye again, we asked the women if they were sorry they had done the interview.
"Why should [we] be sorry?" said Massouda. "First time, you reach the voice of sorrow, voice of suffering and voice of prisoners. But this time, fortunately, you're reaching the voice of happiness, voice of freedom."
I reminded Massouda that the last time I saw her, she had asked me to tell the world about the veil that concealed her tears. This time, she shouted to me a reminder to give her my e-mail address, and not to forget them.