Pakistan celebrates its independence day one day prior to India celebrating hers. Countless lives were lost prior to that day in 1947 and in the decades that followed; men lost touch with what truly makes us happy in the long run and behaved in senseless ways – repeatedly.
One afternoon, a year ago, when my daughter was 11, she wrote this short piece below. When I asked her today why she wrote it, she said it was “to [a] make an attempt at writing an autobiography of an inanimate object and [b] to visualize an intense activity like a battle“.
When I read it, my interpretation is not just of a real life battlefield – most of us will never have to witness something that really is one.
I like to think of the sword here as being any tool that I might use for self-improvement. A stopwatch for my runs, Kevlar lined tyres on my bicycle, a yoga mat, a new compiler for computer code I might write. The battle is against myself, my current self. The victorious soldier and bearer of the sword, Alex, is also myself – my future self. There continues to be respect for what I was. Humility develops through struggle against oneself. There is a continuum between the old self and the new self – a link through both time and stages of improvement.
(Here’s the original piece – the only change I made to what she wrote was the addition of a comma that I thought was missing.)
Blood Brothers – Sword and Soldier
Another second passes, another life taken, and blood covers my beautifully crafted gold blade. My bearer, Alex, the bravest of the brave, breathes wearily and sighs. Then he heaves me out of our victim’s warm flesh and wipes my blade on his already blood-splattered sleeve which is the only part of his torso not covered with gold armour. He looks at our victim and bows down with respect for his opponent’s bravery.
A fleeting second later a silver sword hurtles down upon him from nowhere and he jumps up to parry the blow. I spring into action for what seems like the millionth time and clash with the silver sword. As soon as I feel the blade I realize it would be only too easy to shatter the silver blade if hit at the right spot. When the warrior raises his sword once more I quickly analyze the blade’s weak spot and position myself. I dodge the blow and bring myself down on the silver sword right near the hilt. Instantly the blade shatters and the soldier is left unarmed. Or so we think. The warrior grabs a silver knife instead of retreating and runs towards us in a frenzy of grief and rage. I block all his wild blows and deflect all his blasts. Then for a split second he hesitates to take a breath and I see my golden opportunity. I hurl myself at him and pin him to the ground. Then Alex clamps his eyes shut and brings me down swiftly. I pierce through the soldier’s armour and embed myself deep in his heart. He gives one last gasp of pain and lies still. Blood oozes out and covers me yet again.
Suddenly one more sound cuts clearly through the clamour of battle – a conch signaling victory for us, soldiers of the kingdom of Aurum, gold. A cacophony of wails of sorrow, grief and despair from our enemy, soldiers of the kingdom of Argentum, silver. Alex’s kin, however, raise their voices and shout with glee. Alex, though, does not share their joy.
His face is pale and gaunt, and horror lurks like a phantom behind his eyes. His usually handsome, dark and sturdy figure looks frail and unstable. Concern fills me as I see Alex, my hero, my comfort and the only reason I consent to take so many warriors’ lives look downhearted and dismayed. Soon the Argentum warriors retreat and the Aurums leave the battlefield to tend to their wounds and celebrate. Before long Alex is the only one left with me at his side. He picks up the fallen warrior’s knife, goes down on one knee and holds out the weapon respectfully. Then I hear him murmur, “Oh great warrior, today you fall at my hands but your honour remains intact. You will forever be remembered for your bravery, loyalty and allegiance to your kingdom. Your spirit still lives on in the hearts of all those who knew and respected you. I am one of them. May you rest in peace, forevermore.”
A feeling of respect washes over me and I am overwhelmed. Even though this soldier tried to take his life, Alex was bowing down and willing the deceased warrior’s soul to be at rest. I marvel at his humility, humanity and acceptance of bravery and skill. I knew that until my breaking day, this memory would stay with me and I would never be parted from Alex, my greatest inspiration. We are partners, brothers, constantly at war, fighting for our kingdom, our birthright, until duty will finally overwhelm us and we will leave this world forever, together, hand on hilt, with pride.
We are blood brothers.
Puru (and daughter, then aged 11)
Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.