Trueman (rebelcoyote) wrote,

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The Face of a Statistic

I can’t remember his name but his face is still strong in my memory, I believe he was called Mohamed. He was our youngest interpreter at 18 and one of my favorite people to work with. He was a short young man with a thin mustache, glasses and a distinctively boyish voice. He was shy and quiet most of the time but was always happy to talk with someone. He was every bit the perfect foil for the other young interpreter Omar, who I’ve written about before; Whereas Omar was a tall, charismatic, confident youth who’d strut around in a tank top and hang out like one of the guys, Mohamed was small and reserved, always dressed neatly in khakis and a button down shirt and extremely polite, calling everyone sir. Mohamed always worked nights and through conversations with him, I learned that he attended high school during the day and walked to work at night from his home which was across the river and at least a couple miles a way.

Mohamed said he liked working at the compound; the pay was good, the job was easy and liked having the chance to use his English. It also helped to support his family; They weren’t poor by any means, or at least they didn’t sound like it the way he talked, but he was the only man in the house living with his mother and two sisters. He didn’t say what happened to his father and I didn’t ask. I often wondered what it must be like to come up as the only boy of a fatherless family in a Muslim culture. If it had been difficult, Mohamed never gave any indication, he was always positive, always helpful, always smiling.

Several months ago, Mohamed was eating at a café when some of the guys came by on patrol. He came out and talked to them for a few minutes then went back inside finished his food and left. Im not sure how they would know, but they say that when he left a group of men followed him out of the café. They found him dead in an alley the next day, murdered for working with the Americans.

There’s no postscript for this story, no message, no commentary about honor or duty or societal values. I just found out that someone I was friends with is dead; his family without a father is now without a son. You can take what you want from this story, I know there’s hundreds more like it but I can’t look at it politically and I no longer have the emotional strength to analyze the death of a friend.
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