After the War— War

 

It’s summer, awfully sultry, and the sea is so near – the solution is obvious, isn’t it? It would take only a few steps to let the tired spirit in an exhausted body, find comfort in the cold waves; something the most of the civilized world calls vacation. It’s not so simple, though. You need to know how to rest.

I vaguely remember what it looked like before the last, five-year-long war that devastated this land I was condemned to by God and my incomprehensible love for it. I remember the times when man walked here, too. And then the war came. Out of the blue, intolerably arrogant like any unwanted guest who cannot accept to be rejected. On the contrary. Some people I used to have fun with disappeared over night, some other came whose idea of fun I couldn’t understand, no matter how hard I tried. To avoid feeling excluded I asked the newcomers to explain the reasons of their joy, which to my dismay, surprised them very much. Shouldn’t one know why he is merry? Anyway, after a time, some of them became my other self while the other started avoiding me.

Have you ever seen how the warriors rest? In no way. When they don’t shoot, they drink to forget why and who they were shooting at. It seemed the best solution to me too, during the first year of the war – but my war didn’t end on time. As any war never ends on time, no matter how long it lasted. After some dreadful hangovers I realized that it had nothing to do with resting.

They say all wars have to end sooner or later. Are you sure? If so, why do the warriors “rest” in the same way after the war, too?

Let us leave the warriors in their world they themselves do not understand, let alone the others. The warriors will never understand why, out of heroes, in time they became modern lepers widely avoided by everyone, and those people avoiding them will never understand why, only a short while ago, they thought those lepers were heroes.

It’s so hard to be a simple man in war, wherever it catches you. History is only interested in people of its stature. Not in simple men.

Perhaps everything would somehow come to balance at a bearable level of existence of the ones and the others, if it wasn’t for the third ones; those who needed the war while it lasted, but who need it even more now that it’s “over”. The hyenas of war. They do not understand the warriors or the sufferers, nor do they try to. They need the war just like an auto mechanic needs a broken car – to make a living. And if there are no broken cars, all the worse for them. You do have to make a living, don’t you? That is why they are the most successful in their “missions”. In any way. And that is why the war doesn’t end until they are on the scene. They feel perfect on that scene where it’s unbearably easy for them to transform a lost poor wretch into a warrior again, and the scared sufferers into ostriches who are so terrified that they do not just put their head in the sand, they all go underground. Unless some of the other ones should stumble over them.

What will happen if you raise your head anyway? And they notice. Perhaps they won’t shoot because the war is formally over, after all. But they will do everything to push you back in, make you bury yourself once again in the hot sand, drenched with blood and tears. With your eyes open, so you don’t forget the lesson. If you somehow manage to stay on the surface, then the others won’t see you. They won’t let them. And if some of the other sufferers notice you after all, then it’s high time you left or started quickly to revise your religious education.

You don’t believe it? Don’t. It’s your right. But then, just in case, revise all the prayers you know; you might need it. Do you think your hyenas are more civilized? Maybe more refined? Or maybe you do not rhetorically recognize them? But this does not change the essence.

Oh yes, you can try something more simple. For example, try playing a tourist in the just “liberated” Iraq. Spend your vacation there. Why not? Wasn’t it liberated? Spend some time with the liberated people. Share the joy of liberation. It’s a unique feeling, trust me on that.

But when you return from Iraq, don’t ever ask yourselves: what is freedom? This question can only take you in one direction – to a mental institution. I know many people who have gone crazy because of “freedom”.

On second thought, maybe it’s best if you forget what I just wrote and enjoy it while you can. You can’t change anything anyway, except…

Drazan Gunjaca (1958, Sinj, Croatia) is the author of a number of awarded anti-war books, like the novel Balkan Farewells (international award Premio Satyagraha 2002, Italy) and the drama Balkan Roulette (medal of the European Parliament at the international literary contest Anguillara Sabazia Citta D'Arte 2003 (Italy), the theatre award at the contest Il Viaggio Infinito 2003 (Italy), and other awards at the contests Cesare Pavese-Mario Gori 2003 (Italy), Premio Carver 2003 (Italy) and Il Convivio 2003 (Italy)).Go check out his site: http://www.drazangunjaca.net.
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