Gulwant Nagra sent this story from Busan after her aunt sent her a photo from Camp Liberty, Iraq.
It is sunset and the sun is about to set. The sun blazes through a red haze in Afghanistan’s Sar-e-Pul province as citizens lay out saffron rice on a shallow bed of sunflower.
Gulwant Nagra’s father-in-law and uncle are among the relatives gathered for a gathering. They’re from the north and not supposed to be in Sar-e-Pul, but they’re here because Nagra’s in the capital. Her uncle is the highest ranking Afghan to come to the United States for college and has a family of his own to care for. Nagra has traveled from Ohio to walk the lines to get her brother-in-law, a guide, a transfer student, off of a visa she’s seen advertised.
“It’s a big job to get someone off a visa,” she says.
A waiter serves a bowl of “hakawi,” a noodle dish, on a few plates by the table. The diners, soldiers and civilians from Kabul and neighboring provinces, nibble on this and other dishes.
Nagra’s nephew and younger cousin—a high school graduate—are the center of the table. The teenagers’ hairstyles turn their chests into a jumble of grillings and show off their neatly tattooed shoulders. The restaurant is in an open-air courtyard along a small highway and pedestrians, joggers and other travelers walk through.
“It’s beautiful!” Nagra says of the view.
“I’ve never seen a view like this,” says the 18-year-old Nagra.