Afterwards

Exhaustion, relief, release…

Here I am lying in a “Datak” (jet-fighter storage/hangar) reviewing the day and night that were…

The late-afternoon sun showers the deep blue sky with a fluorescent tint, making the horizon slightly hazy. An amalgam of mattresses, sleeping bags and equipment lies strewn over the concrete surface, lending the place a hodgepodge post-Hurricane-Katrina kinda’ feel. The after effects of various drugs still afflict my recovering body, giving me this strange tired-yet-awake sensation, wherein I’m unable to fall asleep or take a shit. My quads still ache, and my back is yearning for some affection, yet I feel strangely lucid. My phone hooked up to a charger periodically receives a new text, briefly distracting me. But my thoughts slowly return to last night…

The beauty of the landscape. Indescribable rock formations. Pink stones that gave off a strawberry-banana-milkshake hue. Jagged knife-like mountains sheltering us from the cool wisp of wind that blew above our heads. Shadows that danced off two towering cliff walls, as we silently trudged through the night.

There was no excitement. No pride. No ostentatious historic musings. The specifically tailored training had turned us into rote-learned robotic beings, executing every hand movement, every step, indeed – every breath, as planned. Given our over-preparedness, it was easy to mistake last night for just another exercise.

I think that it’s very simple to glorify a particular act from the outside – or with hindsight, as a historian. When you’re in the moment however, you think of little more than where you will place your foot as you take the next step. Or what awaits you next according to plan. Or running all kinds of dire nightmarish scenarios in your head, such as suddenly waking up and finding yourself here (there) alone, and without the team…

Upon our return, I was hit with a palpable sense of tranquillity, a sense of safety. It was the closest I got to sentimentality the entire night. I had come from chaos and anarchy to a place where law and order reigned. I had come home. I joked with Gilly if I needed to present any documents for a stamp. No nationalistic fervour. No over excitement. Just home. Serene.

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