Coming Home

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It’s been 20 months since Anton passed away. But words fail me. I’m a professional writer, but words have failed to fully describe what it was like, and what I am still going through. Here’s an attempt:

It’s like you’re sleeping soundly in your bed at night, and a gargantuan hand pulls out the sheets that cover you and grabs you from your peace. The dark, colossal hand violently rips off your clothes, transports to you to an unknown part of the planet at the dead of night. The hand drops your cold, shivering, naked body into a desert, where you scream and cry your eyes out, asking for help, but not knowing exactly who to call out for. Confused and scared, you hold yourself and rock back and forth, hoping to wake up from the nightmare, but you never wake up.

It’s reality. You slowly crawl through the dessert, hearing gunshots and bombs, and you realize you’re in the middle of a battlefield. As the hours go by and dawn slowly envelops the unknown warzone you’re in, you see unkempt soldiers with horrific faces, speaking a language you don’t understand. You try to beg for help, but they snarl at your naked body and point their weapons at you. They shoot you in the chest. They shoot you over and over again and you gasp in unbearable pain. You think this is the end.

But you don’t die. No matter how much blood has drained from your body, you are still breathing. You don’t understand how you can still be alive.

You try to crawl away to safety—but there is no safe zone. As far as your bleeding eyes can see, it is only a wilderness of soldiers who seem intent on killing you for the enjoyment of it all.

They continue to shoot towards your direction, with your body almost numb to the bullets that go through your head and chest. After what seems like an endless march to nowhere, the sounds of war slowly die down. Your wounds have formed scabs.

There’s nobody to ask help from. There’s no guardian angel to let you know that you’re going to be okay. There’s no one to guide you to safety. You just walk mindlessly.

Days and weeks go by. You finally see some semblance of life—a foreign land with human beings going about their day. They are oblivious to your distorted nakedness. You wash off the dried blood and dirt in a river nearby. You steal a set of clothes and slippers.

You want to go home, but you don’t know where you are; you don’t speak their language. “Surely by now, people at home would be looking for me, right?” you ask yourself. But where would they start looking? Even you don’t know where you are.

Then you realize you don’t remember where home is. You wander around aimlessly, and in time you learn your way around. You’ve learned to live with being homeless and hopeless.

One day your learn to speak their language, and an older woman tells you, “Your home is that way. Go. You don’t belong here.”

You follow the sun where she was pointing. Without a map, you walk for days, weeks, and months until you’re on the verge of giving up. You crave for death, but it eludes you.

During your endless days of walking, you try to make sense of what has happened to you in the past few months. Some moments you get an answer in your head, but most of the time you just have a million questions.

You can no longer see clearly, but you continue to walk, and then crawl until one day you find yourself in front of your house. You are in disbelief. You don’t know how you ended up there. You want to cry, but you’ve cried your entire being out. There is no life left in you. You make your way back into your bedroom, flop into your sheets and fall asleep.

You wake up the next day, dress in your normal clothes and go back to your normal life, wondering if people even noticed that you were gone for a long time.

You try to tell your friends and loved ones what happened, but only a few of them really listen. Only a few understand and believe your story. Others mock you, ridicule your thoughts, and belittle your feelings. They tell you your wounds are not real, unlike theirs.

You look at yourself in the mirror for the first time since that horrific night. The battle wounds have healed, but the scars left behind have distorted your face, your body. Your eyes don’t look the same. You’re a different person.

Welcome home. You have the rest of your life to get to know that stranger staring at you in the mirror.

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