Time & Place:
You find yourself in an elevator. The door closes and you see only five buttons. A sign hangs above them that reads: “Find Happiness.” Each button is a different color. Red, blue, green, orange and yellow. There are no other instructions and you must push one to get the elevator to move. Which color do you choose and why? Where does it take you?
Been out from seeing the Seer at Basement 5. Planning to head out to meet the boys at the nearby pub, hang-out over a few drinks & chat about life. Well… More like chatting about what’s left of us anyway. Had seen much things & more so, people who, somewhat disappeared from our lives. Some gradually, some in a flash…
PTSD, so the Seer says I have. Still stuff to walk away from – buddies I’ve watched slipped away in my arms, giving me last words for their mums / girls / sons back home. How do you wipe away the pain? Local children whom I’ve kicked plastic balls back to, while they laughed heartily over their game of mini-football. The next day, after a shelling of our camp by insurgence forces, I saw some of the boys, huddled together, probably trying to comfort each other in the massive fear of facing the end of their young lives. How do I make sense of my father who passed earlier this year, his last words to me being “You’ve done me proud, son.” When I know only fear, not a hero whom everyone thinks I am. I was shielded by my buddies, who died in my arms during the attack, which is why I live to see today.
I live today to see the sunrises & sunsets. I live another day, living with the same hours of shelling relieved again & again, at 3am everyday. I walk around, carrying the guilt of the men who lost their lives shielding me, protecting me from harm. All because I was trying to shield a little local girl who was running from another soldier.
The wives of the buddies who lost their lives hugged me during the funerals & told it’s not my fault. But… How do I Iive on? Knowing that the little ones running around will not have their daddies kiss them goodnight anymore…
So here, I have 5 buttons. Weirdly, no labels, just colours. “Find Happiness” it says. I was looking for the “Try Again” button actually. Happiness used to be an offer to the best law university, which will bring me on a fast-track in the military. Then marry the girl I have loved, and still loving for the rest of my life. And start a family in the beautiful meadows & retire with our own farm.
Now, happiness is just being able to walk out in the sun, without having to look sharply left-right & rush for the next cover. To wish my buddies back to life, to be able to watch their little ones grow up & graduate from college. Being able to just breathe, and live my life – free from the current debilitating guilt.
Free – that’s my only ask – as I push one of the buttons with my eyes closed. Any will do. Really.
** An attempted continuation from The Seer.