War by Dona

Posted on May 20, 2013 by

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I took a ship to flee my hometown.
Like a traitor, on a land of men and fighters.. I did it as I couldn’t stomach the fight.
I stood there on deck, watching the land grow smaller with every beating wave. That morning I made a prayer;
To keep you sound and safe

I didn’t say it for the soil, it was a woman. I prayed for fate to spare her every misfortune, even though she took the life out of me. She owned my heart till one day she gave her oaths to another;
Love isn’t everything“, she said, and I thought I believed her.
Everything started feeling meaningless, and I felt detached from home even before I left it.

Years have passed,
and I haven’t heard the name of that faraway land until it became the speak of the news. There was a war going, citizens have been summoned to fight for the name of their own land, to win battles and please their lords.
Men have died.
Wives have been widowed.
Even though my childhood city was left untouched, it was witnessing the worst of war with its sons going for blood and never coming back.

Just then, the dreams started coming back, and I started seeing the faces I have tried so long to forget. At first she appeared among shadows, but then she got crystal clear with every dream.
I was well with visions, lived everyday as is, even though it was war, and i was at the land of enemies. My father kept sending me to come back, to leave the city that gave me a home and a wife. He said come back “home, not knowing that whats foreign to me now is that very “Home”.

A year after,
the war had gone duller and colder. War stopped calling with its news, till back again I heard of death.. not a friend, nor a neighbour, a father.
I felt as if I was the soldier that fled the army, cared for his own advice than for his kin. I had to bear being back again, constantly wishing she had fled the city, too.
I had to tend for mother.

My come back vehicle was a plane, and I took a middle seat, but the visions I was afraid to see came to me as mental images whenever coast seemed near. Anyway, I realised that it wasn’t really the same as I thought it will be. The streets are more crowded, full of stranger’s faces. I failed to recognise anybody, and even those who knew me failed to recognise me. If anything stayed same, it’s the address of father’s home. Even the blue house across the street stayed same.

My mother got older, and the house is now grieving a spirit that left it. I had many worries for the funeral that I missed the anticipation of any special encounters.

“Ashes to Ashes”, they said,
Sand to Sand”, I thought. How sand is barely different, yet the lives upon it speak different, look different and believe different.

Everybody kept asking about the country where I owned a home. How I live with the enemy and how I am wed to one of their own. They didn’t ask me if I fathered any sons. They didn’t ask whether or not I loved my wife.

I had the distraction of daggers all over my skin, until I was captivated by the approach of a dark-haired woman. She had a scarf on, loosely worn, it showed strands of her hair; black with fine lines of grey.
Dressed up all in black, she had a gloomy hue, but her eyes were shining a distinctive light. She greeted with her eyes looking away.
I’m sorry for your loss”, she said as I nodded the synchronised response everyone is supposed to give. Then, “welcome back“, shaking hands, and I didn’t know what she meant by that remark.

Back at the neighbourhood, the lights were turned on at the adjacent blue house. Curiosity took the best of me and I peaked around to get a glimpse at the inhabitants of the house. That same black-haired woman came out and approached me. She was more intent there, eye contact and a smile !
Seeing my surprise, she said, “it’s different now“, “why, are you a widow?“, I asked, “No, I’m the wife of a martyr“, she answered.

YOU have changed“, i added.
I’ve seen death, seen people give up all they owned to fight a war they never created. My husband was the first of these, and he left as soon as chance strikes. They call me ‘The Wife of the Martyr’ now. It suits me more than my name because I know better than I ever did. Once war strikes, death walks out, it is no longer a threat. We live by the day, live more and love more“, she said, leaving me mesmerised.
A silence followed, but she was still there.
Don’t speak about love“, I finally managed to say. “Oh my love, we never knew love, we paid more attention to our needs than we did to our love. Now people runaway for love, women let down dowry and marry their men for bravery. A kiss at war is a storm of love and hatred; anarchy against loss and a desire for survival. Here, nature takes its own course. If you’ve lived to wait for death in every corner, you’ll no longer dare take anything for granted and you’ll see, just then.. “, she said as if she knew what she’s talking about. She asked me to stay, saying I’ll believe her then.
I asked her “one day war will end, what will we do then?“, she answered, “If you never try, you’ll never know“,
then she kissed me, and left me hanging with this..

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