Saturday, 15 August 2009

it's still the same #2

I froze.

No, it wasn't a gun pointed at the back of my head. A smile grew slowly and spreaded right across my face. An amazing aroma drifted right by me. I know that smell! Peanut butter cookies! Chocolate chip cookies! And not just any sort of cookies that you can get. It was Madam Courtney's family secret, one passed down and perfected since the days of her great-grandaunt. Oh yes! I know that aroma very well.

As kids, we used to run about the neighbourhood wasting our childhood years away. Everytime we passed by Madame Courtney's house, all of us would stop if she was baking her famous cookies. The smell of it would cause everything inside of you to hunger for it. It would cause you to stop in your tracks if you were rushing anywhere else. It was a "magical" cookie to me. Being kids, we would run up to her, begging for a bite of those gastronomical delights. It always came with a condition: the bunch of us would have to clean up her house, sweep her lawn etc. But it was all worth every sweat as the cookies were amazingly good.

Yes. Those were the good ol' days. I stood there and just enjoyed the moment. My nose was enjoying what it was smelling. Ah... Now I can finally say...

HOME.

it's still the same

The year was 1991. The cold war had just ended. Troops everwhere were dispersed one by one back to their hometowns. Smiles beamed on the faces of everyone as it had been umpteen years since anyone last saw their family. Rifles and helmets were thrown back into the stores as each of us boarded the truck. Although we missed our families, one would say we have been out here so long that we were attached to the bunkers and trenches we stayed in, with the brothers that we served with.

Big, muscular, tough men from my company wept as they said their goodbyes to each other. Brotherly bonds had been formed throughout these years. Blood, sweat and tears were shed together on the battlefield, fearlessly defending the country from any threat.

It was a long ride home. I had lost all my family members, and had nothing to look forward to as the house I was returning to was empty and lifeless. No hugs, laughter, a warm meal nor screams of joy awaited me at home. It was hard to say if I was actually happy to return or not. But, the war's over. That's some news to celebrate about. I'll probably hit the pubs nearby and get drunk real bad. I was 16 when I drafted into the army, having no family and no future to look forward to. After all those years of army training, I would say it has made me, if not a good man, a tough man.

Finally, we reached the targeted destination - HOME. I bade farewell to the dudes and walked forlornly up the pathway heading towards my house. It's been a while , a really long while. Everything seemed so foreign. The windows were filled with dust, and cobwebs were everywhere.

I ignored the call for cleaning up and changed into a singlet and a pair of cargo shorts. Time for a good walk. I headed out to take a stroll around the neighbourhood. Houses looked the same, yet different. It was as though I was at an alien land. The streets were clear, every so often a car would crawl past with its loud engine disturbing the just obtained peace. Kids ran around in the parks with screams and giggles, enjoying the fun that they were deprived of during the war. Yes, it was a time for celebration.

As I walked, I felt a slight sense of peace. The war was still disturbing me at the back of my head, subtly calling out to me. But now, I was able to put it all behind and release a sigh of relief. It was no longer dusty backlanes which I crawled on with dust and sand blowing against my face, but a cool, calm and clear breeze on a well-paved walkway. No sounds of bullets nor tanks, no screams of blood-thirsty lunatics, just the sweet chirpings of birds.

-to be continued.