Afterward: Imagine....

My birth name was Karen.

I pace outside the gates. She arrives today.

The line is never-ending. Every day is busy in this department.

Finally I see her, eyes ablaze above a nurse’s uniform. Peter jerks his chin towards an alcove, averting his eyes.


Rashida’s face is radiant. " Mama," she cries as she weeps in my arms. “Be proud; I am a martyr for Islam and Iraq.”

My heart sinks. How to explain?

“Rashie, the irony is that you were conceived in the City of Brotherly Love.” If only you had carried that vision of my homeland back to yours."

“Taking lives does not a martyr make. There are no 53 virgins. You must atone. You must go back.”

“You died in a nurse’s uniform for a reason. This time there’ll be no European schools, no beauty. God forgives you, but this time you”ll learn to value human life. Poverty and orphans will teach you well."

I lead her to a doorway marked India. I kiss her forehead, whisper “forget,” and push.

John Lennon’s song plays in my head as I weep for my girl.

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