Pigeon

I need a phone card . The vendor is only one block away, but the sun has dropped behind the mountains, and the guards at my guesthouse don’t want me to stray even a single block on my own at this hour. The quiet, scowling Mr. Habib grudgingly puts on his shoes and opens the gate. We start walking down the street –in the middle of the road, as Mr. Habib prefers. A passing car suddenly screeches to a halt. For a split second, I wonder if we’re about to be bundled inside by kidnappers.

That doesn’t happen.

The driver rolls down his window, shouts to Mr. Habib, and points at something on the ground. It’s one of Kabul’s little brown pigeons, inches from the front wheel. The pigeon looks stunned, but not hurt. Mr. Habib reaches down and scoops up the bird with both hands, cradling it as the car drives away.  Gently, Mr. Habib places the pigeon on a ledge nearby and we walk on in silence to the phone card vendor.

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