On the days I visited the care center, I'd walk past this used bookshop on a quiet sidestreet. There were these four books in the shop window that always caught my eye. Other books would come and go ... [+]
He would have to settle for an unmarked grave, if you could call it that, and his bleached white bones, stripped clean by wild dogs in a dry riverbed on the outskirts of Kabul, not unlike the one he was sitting in with Gonzo, would serve as a reminder to the other interpreters. A promise from the U.S. federal government is like wet tissue paper blowing around in a house made of scissors. He would not get the new beginning he had been promised. Despite years of service and the gratitude of countless soldiers.
Rohim had traveled far from his home, Mazari Sharif in Northern Afghanistan, to be a translator in Logar province. After his family had died, he saw no reason to return home, but the U.S. State Department would not grant him a visa, no matter how many neatly typed letters from an assorted mix of U.S. army officers he brought to the embassy in Kabul, or how many times he quoted Stallone from Rambo. "They drew first blood...," he would say, curling one side of his lip up and putting some bass in his voice, but the embassy official would just smile, nod politely and inform him that the U.S. was reviewing his application. Three years later, following one bureaucratic nightmare after another, his application had been denied, and on a freezing night during a halt, lounging in a dry riverbed while Gonzo and Turner pulled security, exhausted from the long patrol, Rohim somehow still remained in love with America.
"So, what are you going to do after your contract is up?" said Gonzo.
"I don' know man," said Rohim.
"You could get a visa. Might have to push the dog off, but my couch is yours. At least until you figure something out?"
"They denied visa. Man, I get forty, fifty of letters. Yeah man, generals, senators. What difference. Still deny. As long as you have job for me, I work here. Yeah brother. Do remember Srosh? He's round for couple days when first you get here? They kilt him man. He hat family, could not hide, needed the money. They see him driving taxi in Kabul," Rohim made a gun with his hand and extended his arm and pretended to track a car with it. "Ka-blam, him, and his fare, too."
"I wish there was something we could do," said Gonzo.
"Is not your fault. Is your country. Inshallah, maybe someday I live in America," said Rohim. "Where is place with beaches, surfs up, you know, this place?"
"Yeah man, Calaforna, all palm trees and blue skies, blonde honeys, blue eyes, Hollywood."
Gonzo adjusted his night vision's focus until he could make out Rohim's face in the dark while they talked. Night vision devices amplify already existing light into green hues. The manufacturers use green phosphors because human eyes are more sensitive to green light. It was overcast, and without the moon Gonzo could just make out Rohim's grainy, forest-green face. When Rohim left and moved out of focus, he bled into the green static void, lit by the stars struggling to cut through the clouds.