I had written a short story in 2015 as part of a homework series.
A step in the dark. Is this the right turn? Seeing all these sights after so long…I wonder if I could see that house – the one that I grew up in…the swing hanging from the wise branches of a tree. My childhood bundled in the shed….witness to the many hours of tricks & romp.
That window there…from where I gazed so longingly at her. So many months…from exchanging glances over our maths homework to picking strawberries together. From the languid afternoons by the lake to the moonlight vigils with our dancing night lamps aiding the secret language of love.
Fate had it differently when the letter came my way – an innocent errand to run. My eager self running towards the post office – happy that I had one more excuse to run by your house.
It was my own hands that delivered my fate to my mother. ‘Summons to the Russian army immediately’ said the letter. Father’s chest happy with pride; mother’s heavy with grief: my only son to be sent to the army?
I was shocked – wasn’t I? An 18-year-old thinking that my adventures would impress her father – so that one day when I returned he would agree to our match. I kissed her profusely for the last time and promised perfumes, ribbons and letters of love.
Within a day, bundled into the train with other wide-eyed boys. And sped away to a fate that none of us imagined.
Twas hards times indeed. Tsar’s army. Training that toughened our bodies; incidents that slowly hardened our hearts; innocence lost in the dimming sight of humanity.
Her anxious voice grew softer in the letters. A few 100 miles away, I had traversed further than I ever imagined.
My mind became bewildered in the growing encounters of violence, cheat, lies and deceit. From the first killing of an innocent boy to an inadvertent shooting of a father…what did my hands do? My mind grew tired in the vortex of the times. And it stopped thinking.
Her last letter pleaded and begged a reply: They’re finding me a suitor. Write to my parents and ask for my hand.
I threw the letter in the fire and continued with my drink and the beautiful woman of the night. I wasn’t worthy any more.
Five winters passed by. My mother begged me to come home – just once? She finally threatened to kill herself.
I consented. I didn’t want her to see my hardened eyes, the scars on my face and arms…
When she finally saw me at the doorstep, she flew to my arms, screaming at the sight of my amputated leg. Why didn’t I say something?
And as I looked over my shoulder – hoping it didn’t attract any attention – I saw the familiar sight that my heart longed to see everyday: the face of my love with a babe in her arms and a handsome man by her side. Her eyes betrayed her panic while the trembling lips tried a smile. It didn’t fool me.
Our revenge was complete.