I last spoke to Abu Musa in March 2003, the week the Iraq war began. It was late afternoon, Syria time, when I called from my apartment in Washington, DC. I waited several minutes while the shopkeeper across the hall—the only resident in Abu Musa’s building with a telephone—summoned my former music teacher from his apartment.
I might have caught Abu Musa in the midst of a nap; he made me repeat my name three times.
At last, he laughed. “It can’t be,” he said. His voice, low-pitched, buoyant, was thick with cigarettes and fatigue. “Where are you? Are you still in America?”
When I said I was, I felt him smiling in disbelief. “You could be next door,” he said. “You could be down the street.”