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Arts/Society The Discarded Bullets

Discussion in 'Language, Arts & Culture' started by pk70, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. pk70

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    Feb 25, 2008
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    The Discarded Bullets

    I was running a convenience store and every day I would encounter different kinds of people save for some regulars. One of the regulars was a man without a home. He would mutter to himself but would not indulge in a discussion with any one. I saw him begging too but it would be only at the end of the month. I would see him collecting cans and bottles in a grocery cart. I tried to initiate a conversation with him many times but he would just stop murmuring, stare at me but he would not utter a single word. The homeless man though with cans and his grocery cart would always catch my attention but some how he was different than others. Other homeless people would love to chatter. In their case, I would avoid indulging in a long talk with them.
    One evening, he brought a six pack beer and put on the counter, after counting all change he had on him, he found out it was not enough to pay the bill. He looked at me helplessly and mumbled, “Can I pay the rest tomorrow?”
    “Sure.” Right here was an opportunity to learn more about this homeless man, for a moment I thought, so I asked him, “what’s your name?’
    “Jim Baker”
    “Alright Jim Baker, remember, you owe me 85 cents.” Saying this, I bagged his beer.
    “See you tomorrow, thank you.” He left without a smile.

    I took a break for a week and when I resumed my duty, he came to buy beer again. He paid for the beer in full this time.. After bagging his beer I looked at him with a curiosity to ask something. Guessing I was going to inquire about the 85 cents-credit a week ago, he said “I paid 85 cents to other guy, you can ask him.”
    “I knew you would, I just want to ask you a question if you don’t mind?’
    He looked straight into my eyes but remained quiet.
    “Jim Baker, would you mind having lunch with me?”
    “What? Why?” He was surprised, I could also read curiosity in his eyes.
    “I like to listen to other people’s stories and like to share mine with them.”
    “I really do not have any stories and excuse me, I am not interested in hearing others stories.”
    Smilingly I responded to his refusal. “Jim, you have a story, I know that you are different than many, a lot people walk in here but you are different than all of them.”
    For the first time I noticed a smile on his face, “Maybe later,” and he walked towards the exist door.
    I said loudly, “Maybe tomorrow or day after tomorrow? Jim have a nice day!”
    “You too,” he responded and left without confirming the invitation.

    After a couple of days, Jim Baker came to buy beer again. He was short of money and asked rather politely, “Would you trust me for a dollar?”
    “Of course I will… but Jim, what about having beer on me today? Keep what you have but you have to go with me for a lunch,” I tried to take advantage of his situation to just listen to his story.
    He gave in and putting back in his pocket all the money he put on the counter, he asked. “Fine, what time?”
    “After one hour, I will be free, don’t go away, and stay around.” I responded.
    “Alright” he left.
    I took my lunch break for one hour on that day so that I could talk to him in detail about
    his life because I was doubtful he would talk with me again. There was a fear of disappearing. Many of the homeless people would just disappear, never to be seen again; where they went, I honestly don’t know.

    Jim was sitting in the parking lot under a small tree. He was reading something. I approached to him and said, “Let’s go Jim.”
    He stuffed his pocket with whatever he was reading and came with me.
    Before I started the car I asked, “Jim, where do you want to go?’
    “As you like, I really have no choice, I do not like to go to those fancy restaurants”
    “Are you aware of any thing closer?” I asked as I did not want to waste time in finding something better to eat. He replied “No mister”
    “Do you like Indian food?’
    “Don’t know sir, never tried”
    “What about that Deli around the corner, they make good sandwiches,” I suggested.
    “That will be fine”
    It was about 1.45PM and Hillside Deli was empty. So we had ha had the chance to choose where to sit. We sat in a corner booth I had to order for both of us because he wouldn’t order. What I ordered, it brought a smile on his face; he consented to my order with a reason; he said “I used to eat this kind of sandwich a lot when I came back from the war.”
    “Really?” I smiled. So he served in a war, I thought.
    “It has a lot of stuff in it, and it is always filling” he expressed his views about that special sandwich.
    “I am glad I could order you the right stuff”, I smiled looking at him, and he was staring at a window.
    “You have good taste” he replied without stopping gazing through the window.
    I skipped the small talk. “Jim, what were you reading?”
    He looked at me and took out an old envelop from his pocket and handed it over to me.
    “Can I read it if you don’t mind?” I asked.
    “Sure, I brought it for you because you wanted to ‘listen to my story’”, Jim said.
    It was a love letter addressed to him by a lady named “Sandra” and there was a beautiful picture of her attached to the letter. After I finished reading it, I pointing at the picture asked him “Is she Sandra? Where is she?’
    His eyes turned sad suddenly, then he said “Yup, she is my ex wife.”
    “She is beautiful; did you two have any children?’
    “No, when I came back from the war, I was in bad shape there was a lot of pain medicine I had to take, I didn’t work for some time… I started drinking excessively … it led to separation and eventually divorce…how much she could have taken man?”

    “Jim you took pain medicine due to your wounds, right?”
    “That is right, but there was more than the pain of wounds.” He lowered his eyes, why, I couldn’t figure out.

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  3. pk70

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    Feb 25, 2008
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    Our sandwiches came and we started eating, during eating, I avoided questioning him.

    After lunch, we came back to convenience store and I took him to my office, the guy working on the counter gave me a surprised look when I closed the door of the office behind me. I knew what he was thinking. He would never understand how circumstances take a person from the top to the bottom. As usual, I ignored his look.
    Jim then opened up, his face was tensed.

    “We were stationed in rural area, on some occasions, our group was attacked. It was clear that our presence was reported by the villagers to our enemy. So we had to move to a thick dark jungle area. Nearby, there was a small village. Our Staff Sergeant ordered us to destroy that village. One of my friends tried to talk him out of the order,” we could force them to vacate it by telling them that we need it to stay there, even if the villagers did report it to our enemy, they would not find us because we would be in the jungle not that village”. However, the Staff Sergeant wouldn’t budge. After a long argument, since almost no one wanted to commit unnecessary massacre, he told us, ‘Alright, scare them out, pick up a couple of girls.’
    We scared them and brought two girls to the post. I don’t know how old they were but they appeared very young. One of them died due to wounds next day, the other one was fine. All of us would rape her every night. She was very depressed. I started feeling pity for her. As I was alone with hr one day, she showed me a picture of a small baby and was saying something and bowing to me. I couldn’t make any thing out of that but I felt she desperately wanted to go to the baby. One day, I took the courage and untied her hands and ankles. One of my friends came back and said ‘What are you doing?!”
    ‘I am letting her go man, look at her!’
    ‘Don’t, Sergeant would kill you; take my word, when we move to the other location. Tomorrow, we’re getting gettinnew orders I heard from the Staff Sergeant I will help you in letting her escape, I swear.”
    I looked into his eyes, he was very close to me and he was sincere. I retied the girl. After one day, early in the morning, we moved. The Staff Sergeant remained close to the girl whose hands were tied. I discussed again about setting her free w ith my friend. He asked me to remain calm and wait for the opportunity. Suddenly near a bridge we faced enemy fire. We took positions and start firing. For some time we forgot every thing but firing at the enemy. When every thing turned quiet, we waited to move on. I looked behind, my friend and the girl were missing. The Staff Sergeant screamed ‘Where is the girl?’ Nobody said a word. He turned back and started looking around the road. We sat there. After about twenty minutes he came back with the girl who was crying and trembling. When she saw me, she ran to me and hugged me crying. The Staff Sergeant forced her away from me and told her, ‘Shut up, if you don’t, I will kill you right here.” He was furious. I asked him about my friend.
    “He was trying to elope with this {censored word, do not repeat.} to desert us, so he got what he deserved,” the staff Sergeant replied angrily.
    It was too much for me to take; however, I controlled myself. I wanted to finish him right there but something held me back. I got up and walked up to him and said
    ‘He is my friend, he wouldn’t do that at any cost, and he just wanted this girl to go as I do too’
    ‘So she is the cause…..’ he smiled.
    ‘Let her go.’ I said politely.
    ‘Are you giving me orders?’ He was real angry.
    ‘I am requesting you to let her go,’ I replied..
    ‘No, I will not do that. Now listen to my orders, move on to the bridge, all of you soldiers, and go on, don’t stare at me like this and get the bridge before the enemy comes to reinforce their positions.’
    We started moving. I heard him shouting, ‘Lie down!’
    I looked back, the girl was on the ground, and he put his rifle between her legs and pressed the trigger. I ran to him, jumped top of him and started beating him with my gun. Then I felt a a blow at the back of my head and I lost conscious.
    When I woke up, I was in medical comp. The first thing I remember was the girl’s face oozing out blood profusely. It still haunts me to this day. I testified against the Sergeant about the girl and death of my friend. They sentenced him to death but I couldn’t recover ever since then from the emotional trauma I went through. All the violent raids we did are still fresh in my head, what the girl went through is still bothering me after so many years. I tried to come out of this, I drank, took drugs but just couldn’t. Some times I want to just die.”

    He was breathing heavily and his face was sweaty. He suddenly asked for a beer. I told him that I would give him one. I asked him, “What did the Government do for you?”
    “It was only my ex-wife who tried to do something; there was no free treatment after coming out of the Army… They just use the youngsters, they bribe them by showing money for scholarships, once they have used you, and they just dump you, only your family takes care of you… I didn’t have any family, if I had, I might have been in better position… I want to be normal but I just cannot… it’s bad. They used me like a bullet. Once I’m used not a bother to them, all of us, we’re discarded once we’re used. What I went through, they don’t give a damn... it’s crazy man.”

    After he left, it was very hard for me to take out of my mind that tragic story of the girl, Jim’s friend’s death and the plight that Jim is in. That night I couldn’t fall sleep as easily as I usually do. Finally with restless dreams, I slept thinking of Jim and the faceless discarded bullets walking the streets before our very eyes.

  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    Pk70 veer ji

    I think you should write a few more chapters to continue this story. It isn't over yet. You are leaving me hanging on the edge of a cliff.

    Great story!
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  5. pk70

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    Feb 25, 2008
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    Aad 0002 Jio

    Your comments have enveloped me with the emotions. Since I heard the tale of the unfortunates, they have been breathing in me. Thanks.
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  6. mkm

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    Mar 1, 2008
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    The story shows the real picture of the army. How cruel they are? Though they fights and saves the country but lust of sex is very bad. They becomes cold blooded people. They can never feel the pain of others. As all fingers are not equal, same case in the armymen. Really Government used the armymen like a bullet. Once it is used than it will be useless after that. Tears came in my eyes by reading this story. God bless you with pen to share views and incidents with other. Keep it up.:happy:

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