Scattering ashes Part 1- arrival


Wars start with fire and then there is the scattering of ashes. The fires burn long after the peace. War starts on the streets, leaks into the soul and stays there. A law of science states that energy cannot be lost; only transferred. The law of entropy maintains that matter always moves from a state of order to disorder. Generals and their soldiers are not well read in science.
Home fires streak misty veils over the township. Dogs bark, cars and bus-taxis growl along the sand roads kicking up dust and early morning shouts. Laughs, screams and cries pierce the soft murmur of men coming back to life at intersections where in small groups they stand holding their hands over large tins of fire, talking through cigarettes and coughs. Radio voices and music recede and intrude. Loud women take turns to fill plastic bottles and basins with water and in unison playfully scold hungover, well groomed young men bantering their way to work. Sunlight dissolves the smoke and mist and children fall laughing into puddles of water and form broken bricks and debris into precarious leaning towers. White boys with guns and dread enter the township in anti-landmine vehicles. The soldiers were harvested young and strictly schooled in standing to attention before a flag while meditating on the threats their people have overcome and of the terror waiting for all of them if they should drop their guard. The enemy is potentially everyone and everywhere; the children will become killers. The boy-soldiers clench their teeth to trap the smiles the playing children tease from them. But God and his ministers of state who have declared the state of emergency demand vigilance and they have been chosen to do their will.
The soldiers disembark at a local police station from where they will patrol the streets on foot. A lieutenant, a Corporal and twelve men form a platoon. Each of the men has twelve bullets per magazine’ the Lieutenant has a 9mm side-arm. They proceed on foot in the formation best suited for urban guerilla warfare. A soldier among them is confused; this cannot be a war zone. It is just a peopled place, just a dusty, smelly town where humans go about the task of living? His hesitance to follow orders with the appropriate haste has been noted by the platoon leader, the Corporal who enjoys the power of fear. He is angry at the township for ruining his chance to fight a real war. Angry because he deserves to be chasing after soldiers not housewives and adolescents. But, since he is here, and it is a war, he will have people run from him.


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