Baba and I immersed ourselves in a sweet illusion, saw each other in a way that we never had before. We’d actually deceived ourselves into thinking that a toy made of tissue paper, glue, and bamboo could somehow close the chasm between us.
In one of those brief bursts of light, I saw something I’ll never forget: Hassan serving drinks to Assef and Wali from a silver platter. The light winked out, a hiss and a crackle, then another flicker of orange light: Assef grinning, kneading Hassan in the chest with a knuckle.
Then I saw Baba do something I had never seen him do before: He cried. It scared me a little, seeing a grown man sob. Fathers weren’t supposed to cry. ‘Please,’ Baba was saying, but Ali had already turned to the door, Hassan trailing him. I’ll never forget the way Baba said that, the pain in his plea, the fear.