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Arlington: Life in America ... Heaven and a Half

It is mid-morning, and Mustafa Nazary sits on his living room couch. He had started the day at 6 a.m. with his first appointment at Ultimate Results, his fitness center in Georgetown, where he is a personal trainer. His 5-year-old son Idris, joins him on the couch. “He is hip-to-hip with me.”

Nazary had fled from Afghanistan when he was 13 years old. “We had a big family of 90. Imagine a huge box with our houses, all living together. Life was literally heaven.” Then the Russians invaded Afghanistan, “and we had to leave.” Nazary said his family was smuggled out, one at a time. “My father kept returning to get my brothers.” About 60-70 percent went to Germany and the rest to America.

Nazary recounted he had been on a bus in southern Afghanistan heading toward Pakistan. His skin was light and he spoke Farsi, which meant he was from the north and headed suspiciously in the wrong direction. The Russians stopped the bus, forcing people to speak and forcing them to get outside the bus. “They often chose to kill people on the spot.” They pointed a gun at Nazary’s head. Someone in the bus yelled, “This boy is mute,” and it saved his life. He said 1 million Afghans disappeared, “just like that. We were very fortunate. Life in America is heaven and a half.”