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By Karen L. McKee
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He has lived in Afghanistan many years. ” “He works for the Amrikaayi, Papa. It’s in his face. He’s probably a spy. How else would he be able to bring in medical supplies? ” “I…I don’t like the way he looked at me. If you had seen—no proper man would look at me that way. ” Her words—there was something in her voice that tightened his chest. Not the voice of his daughter, his Pishogay. “Khadija? Has something happened…? ” Silence. Not even the sound of movement or breath, as if she’d disappeared from the room, just as Yaqub had.
The two men embraced. Farid was thin, his body still taut with the steel that came from years of war and a land where only the wily survived. His black eyes crinkled as he gave Michael the backslap of old comrades. “I had not known you had returned to Kaabul,” Farid said for anyone listening. He motioned to the low line of crumbling concrete that formed a loose seating area around the players. “Come, join us in tea. The evening is fine. ” Michael took the opportunity to study the scene. The old man still was a savant of subterfuge—like many Afghanis.
Beyond lay the foreign military encampment. He studied the men’s faces and the way they looked at him. Safe. Not watchers. From the base of Kohi Asamayi he followed a careful, circuitous route along the winding watercourse of the almost-dry Kaabul River. He’d visited this place when he’d accompanied his father as a small child on business trips. He’d been part of his father’s disguise, he supposed. More successful than Michael’s current one, probably. Then, his father had had a small boy playing on a green river bank and climbing poplar trees as people strolled.
Ashes and Light by Karen L. McKee