Election season arrived in the north, as it did across Afghanistan, with the Taliban retreat to the eastern border. It was the spring of 2002 and foreign soldiers found themselves in a post-invasion lull, although the war would come to demand troops from over 45 countries including Canada and persist for more than a decade. The Taliban fled Kabul in November, 2001, and in their wake were new and empty seats of power but scant infrastructure to fill them without violence. Political campaigns could easily turn deadly.

In May 2002, the son of one candidate vying for a seat in the north was killed by a rival camp. He was shot in the chest at his father’s election rally and died instantly. He was a husband and a father of two with another on the way. His widow, Humaira, was 22 years old and exactly three weeks later, she gave birth to their third child, a son.


Name changed to protect identity.