In the name of Allah the most beneficent, the most merciful, Amir agha, with my deepest respects,
Farzana jan, Sohrab, and I pray that this latest letter finds you in good health and in the light of Allah’s good graces. Please offer my warmest thanks to Rahim Khan sahib for carrying it to you. I am hopeful that one day I will hold one of your letters in my hands and read of your life in America. Perhaps a photograph of you will even grace our eyes. I have told much about you to Farzana jan and Sohrab, about us growing up together and playing games and running in the streets. They laugh at the stories of all the mischief you and I used to cause!
Alas the Afghanistan of our youth is long dead. Kindness is gone from the land and you cannot escape the killings. Always the killings. In Kabul, fear is everywhere, in the streets, in the stadium, in the markets, it is a part of our lives here, Amir agha. The savages who rule our watan don’t care about human decency. The other day, I accompanied Farzana Jan to the bazaar to buy some potatoes and _naan_. She asked the vendor how much the potatoes cost, but he did not hear her, I think he had a deaf ear. So she asked louder and suddenly a young Talib ran over and hit her on the thighs with his wooden stick. He struck her so hard she fell down. He was screaming at her and cursing and saying the Ministry of Vice and Virtue does not allow women to speak loudly. She had a large purple bruise on her leg for days but what could I do except stand and watch my wife get beaten? If I fought, that dog would have surely put a bullet in me, and gladly! Then what would happen to my Sohrab? The streets are full enough already of hungry orphans and every day I thank Allah that I am alive, not because I fear death, but because my wife has a husband and my son is not an orphan.
I wish you could see Sohrab. He is a good boy. Rahim Khan sahib and I have taught him to read and write so he does not grow up stupid like his father. And can he shoot with that slingshot! I take Sohrab around Kabul sometimes and buy him candy. There is still a monkey man in Shar-e Nau and if we run into him, I pay him to make his monkey dance for Sohrab. You should see how he laughs! The two of us often walk up to the cemetery on the hill. Do you remember how we used to sit under the pomegranate tree there and read from the _Shahnamah_? The droughts have dried the hill and the tree hasn’t borne fruit in years, but Sohrab and I still sit under its shade and I read to him from the _Shahnamah_. It is not necessary to tell you that his favorite part is the one with his namesake, Rostam and Sohrab. Soon he will be able to read from the book himself. I am a very proud and very lucky father.
Rahim Khan sahib is quite ill. He coughs all day and I see blood on his sleeve when he wipes his mouth. He has lost much weight and I wish he would eat a little of the shorwa and rice that Farzana Jan cooks for him. But he only takes a bite or two and even that I think is out of courtesy to Farzana jan. I am so worried about this dear man I pray for him every day. He is leaving for Pakistan in a few days to consult some doctors there and, _Inshallah_, he will return with good news. But in my heart I fear for him. Farzana jan and I have told little Sohrab that Rahim Khan sahib is going to be well. What can we do? He is only ten and he adores Rahim Khan sahib. They have grown so close to each other. Rahim Khan sahib used to take him to the bazaar for balloons and biscuits but he is too weak for that now.
I have been dreaming a lot lately, Amir agha. Some of them are nightmares, like hanged corpses rotting in soccer fields with bloodred grass. I wake up from those short of breath and sweaty. Mostly, though, I dream of good things, and praise Allah for that. I dream that Rahim Khan sahib will be well. I dream that my son will grow up to be a good person, a free person, and an important person. I dream that lawla flowers will bloom in the streets of Kabul again and rubab music will play in the samovar houses and kites will fly in the skies. And I dream that someday you will return to Kabul to revisit the land of our childhood. If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you.
May Allah be with you always.