Grief washed her over and tossed her upside down as she stared down at the lifeless form of her beloved husband. Beloved, she thought. Have I ever proven to him how much I loved him? It is said that the mind is numb to all feelings, unless and until it grasps what goes on around it. Grief works on living minds in the same way. Usually, the affected mind spends sometime in trying to be numb, but when reality hits so hard the mind wakes up the feeling with a jerk. It was the same with her. For nearly, her mind had refused to accept that her cherished husband had lost his life, and had lost it in serving her wishes.
Now, as she glanced down at his face expressing calmness, she thought of the first time they had broached on it—the war that had started to move them apart. She served as the commander for the naval wing, and he served as the coastal guard. She thought herself to be empowered and so she did not listen to a word he said to her. She had planned on a massive grenade attack on the enemy. She had told him her plan in the course of conversation over their dinner one day. He had objected, politely and calmly as usual, stating that a whole lot of marine life would be damaged, which would be an irreparable loss for the country, because the water would be severely contaminated with the chemicals of war. He, being a true coastal guard, knew what is, and what is not to be done. But she, who felt that her husband is trying to influence her, did not think of the validity of his advice. She had sharply told him to keep to his business and not to interfere in hers. He had not argued at that moment, for he knew that her temper would not make rational thinking possible.
As this memory began to fade, grief hit her hard again. How right had you been, dear? She thought of another incident, when they were walking down the seashore one fine evening. Their cottage was situated near the shore, so it was not far to reach the beach. As they walked, she stole a glance up at his face, for they were not in good terms. He was looking straight ahead of him, with an expression of sadness in his blue eyes. “Why are you sad?” she had asked him. He had walked in silence for sometime, and then said, “Maybe in another month’s time, I won’t have this beach to walk on, and the fish and birds and the waves to talk to.” This reply infuriated her, for she felt that it was intended to hurt her. She felt that he was trying to stop her from using the grenades, with a personal touch. But she did not budge. She got so angry, that she told him to have some patriotism for his country, that she was ashamed to have such a husband and that she would have very little to do with him. After saying so, she had left him wandering alone in the beach, while she had jogged back to their cottage.
As this incident brought her back to reality with a jolt of pain, she realized that empowerment and control doesn’t mean that you have to control men, but simply to realize what is good and what is not. Now, she looked down again at his dead face, and looked straight into those dead, staring, blue eyes, which had once stared at her with such a defiant determination, but now with blank openness. This stare from her husband’s dead eyes brought before her mind’s eye another incident. It was just two days ago. She had gotten some intelligence that some refugees from the enemy nation have crossed the border to her country, and the kids had been given admission in the local school, and that the refugees had been given one bus for group travel to schools, colleges and the shopfronts where the adults worked. Without a moment’s hesitation, she had ordered to kill all of those innocent men, women and children without caring about ethics or humanity. All she had felt at the time of hearing the news was that they killed my country’s civilians, so let them suffer. But, not even for a moment, did it cross her mind that these men, women and children hated the ongoing war as much as the civilians of her own country. She did not think of them as human beings with needs, wants, desires and dreams.
Her husband, having been with her when this conversation took place, guessed from her one-sided conversation and her facial expression that something was happening. He also guessed that she was about to do yet another mistake. After she had hung up, he gently broached on the subject. She was still revengeful toward the enemy country. His voice and words added to feeling of anger. She felt sure that her husband was going to stop her. So, she said spitefully, “I remember telling you to mind your own business. Yes, I am going to kill the refugees. For your information, They might, after all, be terrorists. “
“But they are innocent human beings! They had come here in search of food, clothes and shelter, and peace. Not death!” he said, with firmness in his voice.
“I don’t think it concerns you, whether I have blood on my hands. I will do what is in my powers as a commander in order to save my country. Do whatever you can. After all, you are not going to do anything against me, are you?” She had asked the last question to make him quiet and submissive. She wanted to close the subject. But he spoke as she was about to leave the room.
“You think that I can’t do anything either because I am quiet, or because I am a coast guard. But, remember this. I will fight with every ounce of strength, to the very end of my life, to save them.”
At that moment, she did not much think of it. She just laughed, wished him goodnight, and walked out of the room. But now, she thought of the events that had been happening that morning.
She had gotten out of bed by five o’clock, so that she can oversee the preparations for the destruction of about two hundred lives. She had dressed up in her uniform, picked up her gun, and walked out of the room. As she had passed her husband’s room, she noticed his absence, but only attributed it to his duty, not to anything else.
She had gone to the road chosen for the attack. The bomb had been discovered to be faulty at the last moment, so it had been destroyed. Every troop, belonging to both army and navy, for she had coordinated with an army officer, had been ordered to shoot the people instead of depending on that bomb. As the bus approached, the army and navy troops, with their respective commanders rushed toward it, stopped it, and rushed on board. They began to shoot randomly, not caring who or when or where they shot. The commanders stood outside and gave orders.
Suddenly, there was a loud shriek from the troops within, as a band of ruffian-like men drove them backward, toward the entrance of the bus with axes, clubs, spears, hammers and all other what-nots. None of the startled troops, or the surprised refuges knew where these ruffians came from. A few of the front line troops fell dead because of their stubborn decision to stay rooted to the spot. But the ones in the back began to run for their lives. One of the struggling troops, during his last moments of life had managed to crawl under one of the seats of the bus, while the ruffian-like gang herded the mass of refugees out of the bus to safety. The dying troop believed that these men in ruffian costume are actually the troops from the enemy nation, trying to save their people.
While the troops ran for dear life, while the ruffians saved the refuges and fought the murderous troops, the army and navy commanders stood transfixed to one side of the entrance, not knowing what to do. As the refugees left, the ruffians came back on board to get rid of the bodies or weapons belonging to the army and navy.
One of the ruffians noticed the man under the seat. He thought that the troop was dead and pulled him out from under the seat with a gentleness, unimaginable to any commoner who tried to synchronize the costume with the action. After pulling him out, the ruffian realized that there was still some life left in the man, the once noble lion that served his army, but now had fallen to the rank of a murderer, because of the base orders of his chief. The ruffian wanted to save him, as he stood for life and humanity. He lifted the man into his arms from the floor, with the intention of carrying him to the nearest clinic.
The dying troop fired at the man who had lifted him. This man was her husband, the noble lion that had stood for humanity and life at the cost of his own. He had bravely carried the troop to the nearby clinic that was located two streets away, there admitting the man, who died a few hours later. Her husband had gotten a wound in his arm, but his duty toward the dying man had prevented him from treating himself to medicine. He lost his life on the streets on his way back home, unattended by anyone, and no loving heart to weep for him at the moment. She had known it all from the commander of the army troops, and from the doctor who attended the dying troop.
Now she finally gave into her grief and cried. She cried as grief washed her over and tossed her upside down. She felt remorse for her actions. But what good did it do? She had lost him because he stood for life, and light, while she stood for death and destruction. She just hoped that someday, the baby daughter she held in her arms would be a better human being than herself.