women and men, they remember war so differently.
my father says, we fled to burma and lived in roofless shacks. nothing but the tattered clothes on our backs. the thieves took everything we had. once i went out foraging with my brother to find crabs and a tribe of cannibals chased us until our feet bled. when we returned to our land at last, we found ruins, endless devastation. but at least we made it home. those were months of shivering pain and exhaustion. i suppose now they only make for a good story.
my grandmother says, i was too young to remember but my sister-in-law told me how it was (my mother never spoke of it.) all the houses they burnt were nothing to the women they broke. and it was the same in ‘71. what is it about chaos that makes beasts out of men. what is it about fear that leaves us all bleeding.
my grandfather says, i trained as a soldier for six months. lived in grim barracks in kolkata and bowed to british officers. there was a man who said he would take me to america after the war. i said no, because i had a family to care for, and i quit the army before i ever fought. at the time, i felt i had lost something. but now here i am, in america, after all these years. my pain became a prophecy.
my mother says nothing. she has never seen a war of the kind that ravages lands and homes and seas. but her silence speaks, in tongues only women understand. or perhaps only daughters desperate for the love of their mothers. her silence says, i have been fighting a war since the day i was born. it says, i am so tired of the violence i cannot unlive. it says, my heart became a battlefield when i started losing my mother. it says, soon your heart will go the same way.
By Amrita Chakraborty
Amrita Chakraborty is a 20 year old writer based in New York. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and attempting to understand life by writing copious amounts of poetry and petting as many cats as she can. In her free time, Amrita can be found lost in a library somewhere, thinking about all the places in the world she has yet to visit, or falling asleep on public transportation.