Bones And Limbs

He was standing on the pavement, looking at people walking around him. There were those who were walking in a hurry, running away from the rain and, others who were just observing the wet weather from their seats at the nearby cafés. Everything looked normal around him; except that there was a bus full of soldiers by the corner of the street. Life was normal for the rest of the people in a sense that the men in green attires and black boots did not bother them. However, for him everything was weird, yet he felt like he knew those soldiers. Their stories were written all over their faces and it felt painful and at the same time wholesome. Their faces were a terrible memory; their expressions were as deep as the idea of war. For him those men never belonged to that street, to that city or to them. They were strangers with dark boots and loaded weapons, waiting by the corner of the street to shoot anyone they suspected or they deemed as a traitor. Then, he thought, maybe he was a traitor himself; someone who hated the idea of war. Looking at those soldiers, he remembered that war was just a piece of paper where you could write names and draw bones and limbs. And, where you could define the lines and limits of someone’s destiny. War was just a piece of paper nothing more and nothing less. He thought, maybe he could sit there on the pavement and pull out his pen and paper and would start writing about what was happening around him. He would start writing about what he was seeing on the soldiers’ faces. He would describe the pain that was lingering faintly on their faces, and he would write poems about their vacant eyes and their somber expressions. He would line out the heaviness of war that they were carrying on their shoulders. He would count the number of the people they killed, because he could see the names of those who perished written on the soldiers’ faces. It was as if they were carrying the echoes of the souls they have taken and he could see them shimmering above their green hats. Maybe if it would stop raining, he would go to them and start a conversation that would begin with this question, “What kind of an errand brought you here beside reaping souls and restricting freedoms?” Or he would ask them about the number of the bullets they carry in their chambers. And, maybe the conversation would start altogether differently, like he would ask them about yesterday’s weather or for instance, he would ask them about the tidings of the city outskirts, since he never in his miserable life had the fortune to go there.

He stirred his eyes away from them and looked back at the crowded cafés. Then, he saw her, a woman with a blond hair and dark eyes. She was smoking and her red lips were on fire. He looked at her eyes again and he felt that he knew her. It all looked familiar, as if he saw this strange woman somewhere. The expressions on her face made him feel that they belonged together, unlike the soldiers. In her face, he saw the war and the pain of losing someone. He could feel the tears hiding behind her eyes- the same tears he was hiding. Because, just like her he lost someone. He lost a wife and a child, and with them, he lost happiness, warmth and light. He knew that just like him, the woman form across the street is familiar with the notions of papers, bones and limbs. Thus, he crossed the street in small steps and tapped on the window. She looked at him their eyes bounding. They stared at each other for a long silent moment. Then, without hesitation, he pulled a paper from his handbag and held it before him. Her eyes were still deep into his, assessing him. He lifted the hand that was holding the paper and showed her the empty paper, and then he mouthed to her “Empty!” and added, “War is empty!”

At first, she did not move; her eyes were looking at his lips, and then moving to the paper. Then, she nodded. Right that moment he grabbed the paper with both hands and then shredded it into pieces. After that, he threw the shreds over his head in a defiant celebration of life. He looked at the woman for the last time, then he resumed his journey away from this place, where dark boots, loaded weapons, raining skies, and crowded cafés are a mere reflection of dying country. The road would at last lead him to the cemetery, for that, the cemetery was his home; there everything is much more alive than this street.

– Imen

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