We were the only girls’ company, and we marched behind a battalion of boys; the road across the village was shrouded by dust. A water buffalo, used to the tramping, grazed undisturbed. A villager saw us and called out, “Girl-soldiers this time.” The villagers appeared in every door, bowls of rice in their hands, pointing at us with their chopsticks. “Girl-soldiers,” young children echoed, running along beside us. We smiled, waved and kept walking. An old woman was pounding dried peppers in a huge stone mortar. The breeze spread the fine powders, and many of us sneezed; the villagers laughed.