From Act I, Chapter 2
Mohammad Ibrahim Frotan taps his long fingers on the round window of the Boeing 727. how strange, he thinks--not glass, but as clear as glass. he presses his fingers against the plastic to leave a smudge, his print, and then looks out at the Colorado Rockies off in the distance.
They are tall mountains, as tall as the mountains of his homeland, with snow on the peaks, even in summer.
His eyes move from one mountain to the next, the bare rugged slopes and the brilliantly white snow, and he thinks about how cold that snow is. he knows exactly. He knows in ways he wishes he didn't just what it feels like at night, when you have to lie on the icy white surface because you're so tired you have to sleep and there's nowhere to escape from the chill and freezing wind, which blows right through the sunrise.
It's terrible to carry memories with you, he thinks. And the memory of snow has been with him since the day his family fled in the winter of 2002 from Bamiyan, a mountain province in Central Afghanistan. a year before, the famous giant Buddha statues that stood over his village were destroyed by Taliban explosives. He knew the giant Buddhas well, like good friends. As a boy, he and his buddies would climb a long path to the top of one of them and crawl out onto the crest of its head, nearly two hundred feet above the lush valley. When the Taliban's tanks lined up in front of the statutes and began firing, he and his dad were farming their plot around the far side of the mountain, the Mountain of Cries, and all he could hear were the blasts, one after another. It wasn't long before the Taliban turned its guns on the people of Bamiyan, and his family was forced to flee to the snowy mountains, carrying mattresses that they would roll themselves inside at night. a whole family rolled inside a mattress.
That place, the place of those moments, is so very far away now that he feels he can try to leave the memories behind. This is what he will do on this adventure. he will forget. . . .
Ibrahim Frotan is a teenager from Bamiyan, Afghanistan who spent the academic year '06-'07 attending high school in the U.S. as part of an American Councils cultural exchange program. The Way of the World follows Ibrahim through the year's collisions as he struggles to reconcile the freedoms of contemporary America with his traditionalist background and navigate the quintessential trials and impulses of the teenage years.