-3- My Weapon
I have been a soldier from the time I was barely out of toddler-hood. I was one of those lucky few who survived early training during which we were given a gun, taught hurriedly how to point and shoot and then shoved forward into the thick of battle. So I was one of those few terrified children who ran in the jungles, shot their too-heavy guns every which way through tear flooded eyes and managed by some miraculous chance to pass the days and months alive and largely unhurt.
I will boast no skill – I had none. All I remember of those days are my tearing gasps, my heart in my ears, a sick sort of adrenalin in my legs and stomach, my wild, haphazard shooting. I ran until my shoes wore out at the bottom. I killed and killed until the sound of the gunshot didn’t scare me, till the recoil didn’t send me flying backwards, till the smell of blood stopped making me want to vomit, till each killing became a triumph of my own survival.
There was no method in my tactics save for a burning urge to live, to escape the predators and to revenge my persecution.
If I was an angry child, that gun and the experiences it led me into made me angrier. Give a weapon to an angry child with limited understanding and she will use it. And I used it.
When the gun was finally torn away from me the night I was captured, I reached out as if grasping desperately for a departing lover. An ugly, animal howl ripped out of me as I clutched thin air. I had been shot in the leg but that was nothing – the pain of losing my weapon was far greater, like losing an extension of myself. Like the amputation of one of my most valuable limbs.
(…to be contd.)