Land, to Afghan men, is spiritual. They call it khawk and it is much more than property. It is soil in the eternal sense of the word—the place of birth and of death. It is the place where forefathers toiled and sowed their sweat in the same land they would one day pass on to their sons. Khawk is holy and it is pure. If there is no water available when an Afghan cleanses himself for prayer, he is permitted to use the dry soil. Khawk is the core of an Afghan soul.

While my husband wept on that windswept ridge, I did not know if he was mourning his homeland or his abandoned lover or his fear of what lay ahead. I did know that I was as much a part of this land as he. We had abandoned our souls when we moved to the city and now we had returned—two wayward and ruined hearts—to the soil of our father and our mother. I realized, in a rush of clarity, that this would be my chance to rebuild our love. He walked again in the enduring earth of his homeland. He would not be vulnerable to the enchantment of foreign ways and foreign women. The curse of his wandering had been broken and now he was back where he belonged, under the magical spell of horses and sacred earth and starlit night.

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