“I can read that letter as well as Father can,” Parvana whispered  into the folds of her chador . “Well, almost.”
She didn’t dare say those words our loud. The man sitting beside her father would not want to hear her voice. Nor would anyone else in the Kabul market. Parvana was there only to help her father walk to the market and back home again after work. She sat well back on the blanket, her head and most of her face covered by her chador
She wasn’t really supposed to be outside at all. The Taliban had ordered all the girls and women in Afghanistan to stay inside their homes. They even forbade girls to go to school. Parvana had had to leave her sixth grade class, and her sister Nooria was not allowed to  go to her high school. Their mother had been kicked out of her job as a writer for a Kabul radio station . For more than a year now, they had all been stuck inside one room, along with  five- year-old Maryam and two-year-old Ali.
Parvana did get out for a few hours most days to help her father walk. She was always glad to go outside, even though it meant sitting for hours on a blanket spread over the hard ground of the marketplace. At least it was something to do. She had even got used to holding her tongue and hiding her face.
She was small for her eleven years. As a small girl, she could usually get away with being outside without being questioned.
“I need this girl to help me walk,” her father would tell any Talib who asked, pointing to his leg. He had lost the lower part of his leg when the high school he was teaching in was bombed. His insides had been hurt somehow, too. He was often tired.
“1 have no son at home, except for  an infant ,” he would explain. Parvana would slump  down further on the blanket and try to make herself look smaller. She was afraid to look up at the soldiers. She had seen what they did, especially to women, the way they would whip and beat someone they thought should be punished .
Sitting in the marketplace day after day, she had seen a lot. When the Taliban were around, what she wanted most of all was to be invisible .
Now the customer asked her father to read his letter again. “Read it slowly, so that I can remember it for my family.”
Parvana would have liked to get a letter. Mail delivery had recently started again in Afghanistan, after years of being disrupted  by war. Many of her friends had fled the country with their families. She thought they were in Pakistan, but she wasn’t sure, so she couldn’t write to them. Her own family had moved so often because of the bombing  that her friends no longer knew where she was. “Afghans cover the earth like stars cover the sky,” her father often said.
Vocabulary & Phrases
 whispered [w?sp?d] vi. 低语（whisper的过去式）
 chador [t?ɑ?d?] n. 穆斯林妇女用以遮盖头部和上身的）罩袍
 be allowed to 被允许做某事
 radio station无线电台
 along with连同……一起
 except for除了……以外
 infant [?nf?nt] n. 婴儿；幼儿
 slump [sl?mp] vi. 下降，衰落
 punished [p?n??t] vt. 惩罚（punish的过去分词）
 invisible [?nv?z?bl] adj. 无形的，看不见的
 disrupted [dis?r?ptid] vt. 扰乱（disrupt的过去分词）
 bombing [?bɑm??] n.轰炸，投弹