Stories from the Silk Road
An Interview with Patrick Eaton -- Lead Character in Chaturanga
Less than one month after completing a dramatic journey across Central Asia, fourteen-year-old Patrick Eaton could easily be forgiven if he were still struggling to readjust to life back home. After all, he had spent nearly three months immersed in a land and culture vastly different from his own. But earlier this week, when I caught up with him in the cafeteria of Central High School, it appeared Eaton had already transitioned back into a typical American teenager.
“I couldn’t find my khakis this morning,” he said with a sheepish grin, arriving at our meeting in a wrinkled t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. He sat down across from me and lifted a threadbare baseball cap to reveal the shaggy hairstyle so popular with adolescents these days.
Having worked with teenagers before, I replied that it was okay; this was not a job interview. Besides, I added in a pitiful attempt to relate, it must be tough settling back into the cruel world of young adulthood. He just smiled and shook his head. “Actually, I just slept through my alarm this morning.”
Looking him over, I started to wonder if I was in the right place. My editor had hooked me with the tale of an American boy who accompanied his father on a business trip to Azerbaijan, and was then whisked along a hair-raising adventure on the Silk Road. Trekking across deserts and visiting far-flung oasis-cities, he had learned about the wider world and his place in it, surviving difficulties and dangers, and growing stronger and wiser as a result. Could this be that same boy?
Andrew C. Katen