Friday, December 22, 2006

After Life (draft)

Chapter 1

I realise what it means now. I now understand why thousands of sweaty hands carried banners and why their coarse voices shouted through those dusty streets, even though they themselves still don't. I know why young men wore green uniforms and polished their brown boots. I know why powerful men gave speeches from lecterns and why millions of powerless men applauded. I know why some men wrote and spoke and why others did not listen or read. I understand why they would sometimes try to cover the red blood on the ground with thick black ink on paper and later glorified that same blood with the same strokes that their heavy pens had made. I know why pages of magazines and books once overflowed with their stories and ours and why people paid to read them.
I understand peace, because now I feel it, like I used to smell the sweet scent of flowers and burning incense at the temple. I know it surrounds me like the wind, because I breathe it in. It flows though me now, like a river through a dessert, fertilising its path through my soul, then eroding it and carrying it away like sand and loose rocks, on its way to the greater depths of the universe. It has become my sustenance, the same way that fear once was. After a lifetime of searching, I search no more. Through all the tribulations of my short life, I have at last found life's purpose.
Men strive to carve out their own space with their own tools and their own skills, during their own lifetime. Some do so with their speeches, some with banners and coarse voices, some with their pens and yet others in their green uniforms. Many of them believe as they struggle, that they will have more than a lifetime to benefit from it. My struggle has led me to my life's fulfilment and its completion; for I am dead now.

My world is dark now, but I see my place in the universe more clearly than ever before. I did not know God, but I know him now. My loved ones and friends do not recognise me anymore, but I have carried their memories with me. I did not march out of the battle the same way I marched into it. I do not yearn anymore to give or to take, for you take, only to give back and a lifetime is all you have; to give or take. The battle field broke my life before it mended my soul. I walked through a gate of violence to enter the world of peace. There are those who enter this world from different gates after wearing off their own tools, but mine weren't worn off. There are those who are never remembered beyond their lifetimes, but when I died, a nation stood up and remembered me in silence for two minutes, because I once held a gun against my chest.
That gun was my tool. Life had assigned it to me and I carried it with skill and honour. They told me it was mine, but it belonged to another man who died before me. The fire within it was responsible for the deaths of many. I kept it at my bedside and carried it on my shoulder. I stood with it at attention and guarded their peaceful world as they quietly slept, for I never had any peace in my own world. It was there to protect my life, the lives of men who marched beside me and the life of my nation. I never considered it vulgar or brutal when I held it with the same fervour with which I held my wife and my first born son. I did not see the irony then, that it would be such a weapon in another man's hands that would end their dreams and spill their tears. I did not understand how that which was commissioned to save lives, would eventually destroy them. I did not know then, that the path to my peace lay inside a metal barrel of fire and violence. But death takes as much as it gives and recreates what it destroys. Soon the time will come, when the life of the one who took my life will also be taken. But not yet.

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