Peace and Conflict
I used to be able to stand, and watch the fireworks at the turn of the year. I used to be able to walk, and stroll around my neighborhood park. I used to be able to run, and race with my dear friends on a road. I used to be able to kick, and play football with my son. I used to be able to jump, and swipe the dusty object off the top of the shelf. I used to be able move my legs, but not anymore.
I was happy before the peace from my legs was taken away from me. I had a family that I loved. I was living economically well. I had friends that would go to the pub with me and drink our hearts out. It all changed, because I was an army soldier.
The day we left for the war, my dear family came with me to the airport. My little boy and I walked all over the airport, going in toy stores and getting fascinated at revolutionary toy technology. My loving wife sat down with my sad mum, who always contemplated about me going to war. Close to the boarding call, I was asked one last time whether I was sure of my call of duty. “Are you sure about this? I’m not the one forcing you, you know,” my mum said. “I’m sure about this Ma. I promise you, I’ll come back safe and sound,” I confidently responded. I thought to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen? I’m technically an army veteran, after serving for 15 years without going to a single war battlefield.” As it turned out, I was wrong.
Like the Call of Duty games my teenage son plays now, there’s strategies and shooting to be planned and done. Unlike the Call of Duty games, my story isn’t so dramatic, and I’m not the hero; I was the victim.
I was deployed to a part of Afghanistan during the early beginnings of Operation Enduring Freedom. I settled very quickly at the camp due to my friendly connections with my colleagues before we went to war. The first few months were ordinary security and patrol. The eleventh month, however, was hell.
We were sent to the south of the country, considered the most dangerous area in the world. In the town of Sangin, we saw people hiding in their homes, hiding their children, and hiding their beliefs. They believed in us, the fighters against the insurgency, and they hid it with all their heart. We paced to the frontline, lied behind the sandbags, and, with our minds, wished each other good luck. I didn’t have it.
It was just coincidence that I was shot in the leg. It was just coincidence that I was shot in the major nerve. It was reality that my sciatic nerve ruptured.
Even with the agonizing pain, I still shot at the insurgents, intending to exact revenge. My fellow soldiers were worried, but I nodded and continued shooting, because I instinctively knew this was the last time I was going to serve my country. It took three hours until I could retreat from the battlefield to the medical tent.
I returned, or was sent, home and to my family, safe and sound as I promised. We were all ecstatic but depressed; I could hug them and kiss them again, but only in a wheelchair.
When the doctors told me I would never walk again, I was struck by lightning. When my general said I was going home, I was punched in the gut. When I hugged my son after a year, I thanked god. I didn’t die; I lived. When I thought about writing this story, I saw myself a relentless man when I didn’t stop shooting, but this isn’t supposed to be for my benefit. This is for the soldiers who sacrificed everything. I dedicate this to the dead, the true heroes.
Submitted by : Bryan Tan ISNS Secondary