What goes around, comes around…… I stand underneath a tree, holding an apple in my hand; and my mind wanders off to the most classic experiment in physics. I look as I watch the apple fall back in my hands. It actually doesn’t mean anything to me on the face of it; but a silently growing realization shakes me up……. It has to come back…. Everything does…. Doesn’t it? The term ‘what goes around, comes around’ wasn’t new to me, but the plain absurdity of the fact that the same thing could happen in another way hadn’t ever struck me. And here I was standing alone out in the middle of nowhere connecting the dots that I had so carelessly scattered all across my life. The reason behind my present never really occurred to me till I was left lonely with little else to hope for. It all started way back in Iraq……… March, 2003. We had landed in Iraq, our objectives clear, end the Hussein regime, eliminate whatever WMDs that we may find, eliminate Islamist militants, distribute humanitarian aid, secure control of the Iraqi petroleum infrastructure and establish a representative but compliant government as a model for other Middle East nations. I had worked in the US Military for 10 years… and the day when I had opted for military as a career was still fresh in my mind. My father an immigrant from the United Kingdom had fought valiantly in the Second World War and he always insisted…… A soldier’s job is to establish peace; not fight wars. With my inborn fascination for weaponry and my father’s ideals in mind I enrolled for the US Armed Forces. The journey wasn’t easy; and it was surely not pleasant. War is just the superficial description of a soldier’s profession. There was much more to it. But I was young; and nothing could parallel the swooping sensation that would develop in the guts whenever we used to jump off a plane together. Me and Dave Harrison….. The plane doors opened and I was ready to once again throw myself into unknown depths, Dave by my side as always. For some reason unknown to me, he seemed quite jubilant that day. Maybe it was the adrenaline rush before the war. Or maybe he sensed a sweet victory down there. But whatever it was; I am sure that even he couldn’t have imagined the events that were about to unfold in due time. We landed at around 5:30 Baghdad time……. The invasion of Iraq had begun… The next 8 months that followed were probably the worst that I had ever seen as a soldier. Never had a war been fought with this ferocity and the Iraqi Army resisted well beyond our expectations. First it was militants in plain civilian clothes; then it was heavy bombarding that continued for months without any end. The Iraqi’s were prepared for an attack of this magnitude. But then the Coalition Troops were assisted by random and quick aerial attacks coupled with a solid support bombardment provided by the Royal Navy, US 1st Marine Division and the Royal Australian Navy. Thousands were killed, even more injured…. Countless civilians were caught in the crossfire and died needless deaths. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I had signed up for the US Military….. This definitely wasn’t peace…. But a soldier’s job includes waging wars for reasons which he cannot justify…. For reasons that didn’t exist; as came to be known later. I endured this dual sided massacre day after day, as I hoped that no familiar face crossed me on a stretcher as I returned to camp that day. The ordeal went on for another three weeks…. And then finally on 9th April, Baghdad fell, and the war was temporarily at a standstill with the Coalition Forces having occupied Baghdad and the strategically important Green Zone. That night I slept peacefully for the first time in those three weeks; and probably for the last time in my life. The unrest in Iraq wasn’t over…. Some of the resurgent Ba’ath Party leaders continued to launch continued militant and suicide attacks on the Green Zone. A new war had begun……. With the end of the official invasion, a nationwide search for the rumored WMDs began. Everyday was the same. Following up on the intelligence reports, and combing the designated target zones. But no WMD was ever found; thus making the war futile, unjust and more importantly selfish. I used to walk day after day, heavily armed on the streets of Baghdad searching for remains of the non- existent weapons in the hope of finding at least one good reason that justified the war; that justified the damage that we had laid upon this country. But all I saw was despair, suffering, abandonment and emptiness. Thousands of children were orphaned, women left unaided. I could do nothing to save them, nor could I look at their lives being torn apart slowly over the years. And all soldiers weren’t as righteous as I was… Some of them looked upon these despaired women as just a source of unjust entertainment. The greed and lust in their eyes constantly reminded me of the cruel and true nature of the aftermath of this war. Children used to be beaten up mercilessly, women raped; but no one did anything. The vanquished always had to watch silently. And those who dared to protest never really surfaced again. Iraq had just shifted hands from one dictator Saddam to another……. USA. I couldn’t stand this violence for long and soon after claiming medical reasons I was being deported back to the states. And just then an event occurred that changed the whole scenario of the Iraq Invasion. Saddam Hussein was caught……… Troops after troops lined up to watch as he was dragged into Baghdad bound in chains and heavily guarded on all sides. I fell back after taking one look into his eyes and returned to the camp. But little did I know that another news awaited me there...Harrison had been killed in a suicide bomber attack and had been brought back in bits and pieces. This was the last nail on the already built coffin that I was falling into…… I returned to Florida a dejected man and turned to a peaceful life as a private security contractor. But still I resented the job that required me to carry a gun around everywhere. I resented the very job that I had sworn myself to ten years ago. I had lost my friend, my conscience and my soul in that war. My life after the war was rather quiet and private. Having seen the inhuman and violent side of the human nature I had lost all interest in being a part of the society. But as they say, life always brings out the unexpected out of you when you are the most dejected. I was losing myself into loneliness and she had waited for a partner since the time her husband had abandoned her and his 2 year old daughter. She ran a small coffee shop downtown and it just happened to be the closest one to my apartment. What started just as a free thanksgiving coffee flourished into something much more! It was as if god had sent her to pull me back, as I slipped into the darkness of loneliness. And before long, I knew it in my mind that she was the one who would make me happy for the rest of my life. December, 2008 I had been happily married with Susan for the last three years and fate seemed to smile on us. I had completely forgotten about my past in Baghdad though frequent nightmares did wake me up in the dead of the night. Still life was calm, stable and as uneventful as possible. And that was really good, because I had had my fair share of troubles way back in Iraq. It was Christmas Eve and I was out shopping for Lucy. I still tear up whenever I imagine her face as it used to light up on Christmas. She used to literally pounce at the tree scavenging for her gifts. I had finished a little early and decided to join a buddy at our local bar for one Christmas drink. Old times started to roll and I lost track of time. I returned home at 10 to find the house unusually silent… too silent in fact. I rummaged through my pockets looking for my keys and accidently leaned against the door. And it swung open. This wasn’t like Susan… She was never careless regarding security. Fearing the worst I ran into Lucy’s room…. It was deserted. My heart beats getting frantic by the moment; I ran across the hallway and barged into my apartment. The sight crushed me to the ground. A whole layer of blood splattered across the walls and Susan lying on the bed; her face obliterated by a massive wound on the left side. And suddenly Baghdad came back to me in the batter of an eyelid and I broke down. But still I had to find Lucy…… And I didn’t have to go far… I saw her innocent face stare at me vacantly out of the bath tub as if she was questioning me; as to where I was when she was being drowned mercilessly. This wasn’t their fault; they never hurt anybody…… then why did they take the toll? The next few hours were just a blur of images…. Cops, neighbors, relatives, journalists and so many more people………. The memory of that day will never be erased from my mind. It sears into the back of my mind every time I look at their pictures and I regret my decisions in life… I regret being a soldier. I was never a very religious person and I am still not…. But I got obsessed with destiny and karma…….My mind started linking every chain in my life, every wrong doing, every innocent soul that I killed unknowingly to the deaths of my only true family. It grew like a tumor in my head and hollowed me from within. I gave up every attempt to fight for justice until one day….. The day I received a phone call from an anonymous tipper…… That was yesterday…… and today here I am standing underneath a tree staring at a photograph that will probably come to define my life hereafter… or maybe not. It rather depends on what I choose to do. And then it makes sense once again. Life runs around in circles right? ……………. So then I choose to give this man back what he deserves… an eye for an eye….and a life for a life.................Here I come.
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