What would you have me do?

“My mother, don’t you worry
My brother, don’t you worry
If I happen to die in the battlefield
Never mind, we shall meet in heaven”.

Women wailed, reaching for their sons as the soldiers marched to waiting trucks.

Old men shook their heads, heaved their shoulders, and spat on the ground. This was a senseless war, unnecessary in every regard.

New wives shook uncontrollably as gut-wrenching sounds escaped from lips that had pledged, only moments ago, to wait for their husbands.

“O my home, O my home
When shall I see my home?
I will never forget my home”.

The soldiers continued to sing and march, eyes forward, appearing to be unaffected by the turmoil around them.

The whole town had come to see them march off to war. These men, most of them just barely so, have answered their country’s call — although this time it was widely agreed that the call was the groaning of a country abused by her own children.

The war was as senseless as it was unnecessary. They had been told it was to protect the sovereignty of the state, threatened by militants who they said were sponsored by neighbouring countries that stood to gain cheap oil from the tumult resulting from the agitations of the militants  —  militants who every good and honest person could see were, in basic terms, just fighting for their right to live without exploitation in their terrestrial heritage.

Their brothers were the exploiters.

Mothers would lose their sons.

Wives would become widows.

Children would become fatherless.

The country would bleed again, watering venomous ambitions of her children with her own blood.

As the trucks conveying the first batch of soldiers drove off, mothers began to roll on the ground, some of them bleeding from sharp stones, sticks, and broken bottles that cut their flesh.

“Let me go now”, “Let me go to heaven and wait for my son”, “I have no reason to continue to live”, they wailed.

The old men scolded them and told them to go home and take care of their husbands and the children they still had at home, then they went to drinking bars. There they reminisced the good olden days, cursed the current crop of leaders and their children, and then downed their frustrations with potent brews that cooked their livers.

They would go home and, in secret, cry for their sons who would be wasted on altars of greed, pride, and hysterical arrogance.

They would teach their younger sons who had survived this time to take wings and fly — they would poke and push until these sons realized what trained eyes could see — they were only being reserved for when more blood was needed to water the ground.

And then they would comfort their wives and prepare their daughters for what they must come to know because of the greed, pride, and hysterical arrogance of brothers entrusted with the responsibility of preserving the wholeness and integrity of the land they had been blessed with.

*****
Isaiah sat, pensive, as the boys around him chatted and sang of what they would do to the bastards that had dared to touch the tail of the lion. It was obvious they were making the songs up, but since it kept morale high, the officer in charge allowed them.

Like Isaiah, most of them had never been to war and had desperately skewed views of what to expect. You could tell from the songs they made up.

They tried to get Isaiah to join them but when he refused, they let him be.

Their orders were to get to a particular station, not too far from their current location, and wait for further instructions.

As they approached their destination, the restlessness that had seized Isaiah grew to proportions that almost choked him.

Struggling to breathe, he started to pray.

Soon he heard orders being barked out.

The boys, now quiet, marched on gravely, as though they had suddenly realized the horrendousness they had been thrust into.

The surrounding was quiet. Too quiet, and it made Isaiah shiver with something that looked like premonition.

♣♣♣
Continues next week

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