“Papa, look!” the young boy pointed at the object hung on the wall. Now the semicircular object was glaring them in the face as they stood at the table.
Although the boy’s eyebrow could not rest, the grandpa was getting sated at last, and his anxious look had disappeared in no time.
“What’s that?” the boy asked.
Little did he know his curiosity had ignited the old man’s memories about his youthful days in the jungle, where life cost less than a penny.
The pants of men could be heard under a rushing cloud, a song of morale fainting as they marched on. Various legs jabbed through the forest until sudden silence won the atmosphere. There a man with a scary face was creeping and peeping. He was wearing camouflage paint all over his face and boots with muddy soles in his legs. With green leaves covering his head, his chin was brushing the wild grasses of the rain forest.
He seemed to be playing hide-and-seek, but for the cold weapon in his hands.
Next, darkness clouded the sky all to see a new day. Nothing had changed about him. There he was still lying, creeping in his grave hunt for scape goats, who were probably lying low in siege or what they thought was an ambush.
Boom! He had pulled the trigger, and a scape goat received his own dose of death sleep at a flash.
This was a war front, where people kill or get killed, and revenge is often a motivation to the losing and dying souls.
He was at the front line, and the ire of revenge beckoned him and his colleagues. These were able men in their youthful vigour, and they were all swift in taking cover before the following fire exchange. In less than no time, the forest was smoking like a chimney and the noise of sporadic shootings transitioned the film out of the flashback.
Then the grandpa stretched forth and unhooked the object from the wall. It was a helmet. Yes, grandpa was a veteran.
“My son, you bring back memories,” he said.
The little boy was stunned on seeing the helmet. His mouth open wide, he touched the helmet tenderly and questioned his grandfather: “Papa, are you a soldier?”
“I have always been a soldier, son. But, my mission has changed.”
“Yes. Let me explain it this way: When you change your class, your new teacher presents you a different test. Your new test is like a new mission. With a new test, you can be promoted to the next class. In the same way, when you have a new mission, you can achieve a different result.”
“I’m confused,” the boy said with a sigh. “Why did you change your mission? Are you weak?”
“Weak? Maybe that will happen someday when I join my ancestors.”
“Where are your ancestors?”
“They are in the grave.”
“When will you meet them?”
“In the future.”
“Uh, where is your gun?”
“My new mission does not require one.”
Clenching his fist and tightening his muscles, the young boy stamped his foot on the ground and showcased his strength to the grandfather. “Papa, look at me; I am strong. Can I be a soldier?”
Grandpa merely giggled and patted the boy’s back in his effort to evade the question, but the boy would not stop questioning him.
Then he held the boy’s hand. “My son, I like your tenacity,” he said. “If you keep questioning everything henceforth, you can become a soldier. But, your fight will never be against humans but everything that is defeating humans.”
What did he insinuate? The young boy furrowed because he could not get the sense of it all. Meanwhile, the wall clock advanced the scene some hours through the day.
Then it happened in the evening that the boy sneaked into the lawn, hopping in his hunt for grasshoppers. There the grandpa appeared at the doorway, where he was observing the activity of the lad.
“My son, are you killing nature?”
“No, I like playing with the grasshoppers,” he answered.
Leaving the doorway, the grandfather approached him and squatted beside him. “Let me see your catch.”
A grasshopper changed hands before the old man spoke further: “Life is a game we need to play, not a war front where we need to smash the weak. Erick, this little grasshopper reminds me of a day in the jungle, when I was seated with my best friend in the army. That moment, we were on a mission against some rebels.”
The two men appeared reclining on straws. One was holding a grasshopper in his hands while the other was holding a transistor radio.
“How would you feel if all animals could interact with man?” the former asked.
“That would be disastrous.”
Chuckling, the former responded, “Being at war does not mean you should only think about danger. Think about the opportunity we would have over our enemies if animals could ally with us and function as spies.”
“That’s a fantasy. You know, we would have to contend with animals too because animals would like to have their own kingdom.”
“You think so?”
“Well, for animals to interact with us, they need to think like us. And you know the fact about our mission: We are in this jungle due to human reasoning.”
Back to Erick and his grandfather, the father returned the helpless grasshopper and said to Erick: “Erick, there is a limit to what I can share with you. But, always remember that the world has to change, and it will change someday. It is quite distressing that the person who is obliged to prepare your heart for the change is not aware of this. I wish you grow up getting more informed and making the right decision.”
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