As my legs sweat against the plastic-covered seat of the little Peugeot and my forearm stuck to the shiny vinyl door rest, my heart broke with longing for that unrefined life. I stared out the window at the dusty war-torn village and murmured to myself, “I so want to go home.”

But there was no home for me. Mother was no more, and the Russians had leveled our little house. There would be no nostalgic return to a warm stove where fresh chapatti baked and filled the room with rich aroma. I was an exile—doomed to wander through a war-ravished world in search of an illusion.

I could not identify what it was that I wanted. Somehow, my memories had filtered out all the heartaches and disappointments of my childhood. What remained was the recollection of an impossible, frivolous world. I knew that I could never recapture those untarnished days, but how I hungered for them. How I wished I could be naive and simple again.

Perhaps if I had a daughter, I thought, everything would be different. I would tell her of the world that used to be and we would share my wistful melancholy. And she would lay her head on my shoulder and our bereavement would pour from us in a single feminine tear. And as the world crumbled around us, we would crawl into a sacred cocoon. And we would have no need for words because we would understand one another’s hearts.


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