Months after it began, I felt I’d already died. Like one day I had opened my eyes and woken up to blood smeared all over my body and a few dead people lying around me. For a moment I could not understand why was I here; fighting for a cause I did not believe in and for a master I did not know. But a queer, distant force had thrown me into this belligerent commotion and there was no escape but to pick up arms and fight.
When I got on my knees to have a bird’s eye view of the parched, dust laden field I was standing on, there was nothing but a rough land stretching far down every direction. And darkness blanketed the sky where, somewhere in the faded strands of my memory, once glinted the sun. The imminent threat of what was about to pass for a seemingly long time made my heart heavy with grief and even in the coming years, amongst all the steely clinks of swords and the bashing of shields, I’d often pause and look around for a kind exchange – but all in vain.
For years I got so accustomed to the torrid heat, unremitting anguish, dark and threatening crevices with no end, desolate, cold nights with no repose that now when I stand staring at a waning sun, I do not know how to behave. I haven’t experienced tranquility in a very long time, and uneasiness seems to have settled in the narrowest slits of my mind.
Somewhere I once heard, assurance cures uneasiness; assurance from whom, I wonder.
I’ll tell you how it was; hold on for a little longer. A queer game this is and by the time you learn how to play by its rules you’re already on the brink of incorrigible collapse. You learn the art of carrying the burden of helplessness and masking it with pride. You learn how to sit still and hear the world around you softly mewling for help. You learn to appreciate recluse corners.
You begin to look up to the sky often, like a pair of bright, celestial hands would pick you up someday and take you far away-far from all the bedlam.
You start nursing hopes of divine help. Any help. You excel at constructing impressive facades- after all, they’ve protected you all this time. Initially, you try to talk about it, to the ones fighting alongside. But slowly you feel derided and just .. not understood enough, so you shut down, turn inwards and find a listener within.
This is how I fought and waded through years of noise and unrest.
But now, I’m entranced, reader. It’s almost like an ending of a long nightmare. I gaze with longing and gratitude at the freckles of grey clouds dotting the bruised evening sun. A warm rain might wash away some of this angst. A gush of fresh rain sweeps the field and I realise I’m still clinging tightly to my armour, so I let go and take a long whiff of the petrichor rising from the moist earth.
Dismally gazing at the distance I think of who I used to be before the war. I make a silent promise to scour her in the deepest of corners and pull her back. But the question is,
Has anybody who has ever been through war, returned unchanged?
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