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There is a snapshot of my father in a family photo album. He sits on a bicycle, beneath him an orange-colored, banana-shaped seat. He is wearing cutoff shorts, shoes without socks, and dark eyeglasses. He is maybe thirteen. He is a boy on a bicycle. Happy.

My father is unaware of his future. He doesn't know that he will marry at twenty-six and that I will come along two years later; my brother several more after that. He doesn't know that he will go to Afghanistan; die in a place his family knows little about, in a place of sand and mountains, where girls and women are required to wear a burqa; where girls my age can be forced into marriage.

"Why do men go to war?" I asked my mother, years later.

"Because they're stupid," she says, and I wait for her to explain herself, but she says nothing else.

Story by:

Robert Wallace

7 March 2015