July 8, 2009

“Parts”

You have no reference point for what you want to do. You know that you need to do something. You have built up something for yourself. You have created great expectations all along. They will wait, with baited breath about what you might say, or do. The family back home calls you a hero. They pat you on the back. Maybe they would hold a parade for you, but there are too many these days deserving of a parade. Besides, you have come back a monster. You have stared into the abyss.
And the abyss looked back. You have no family anymore, you are the man in the office, working on the family business, but you are a ghost. No one will talk to you, and strangers avert their gaze as they pass you in the hall. Your father tried to be sympathetic, but he had trouble. He’s never seen his son in conditions. What happened to the young man, so full of hope and promise, so full of the possibility of a vibrant future? He has come back broken. The first time, you saw him, the man who raised you and gave you your name; you could not look in his eyes.
“Welcome back son. You know we’re proud of you.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Of course, we all do. We’re glad you’re still with us.”
“No, I failed you. I am no hero, I am a victim like all the rest.”
“But what of your deeds, what of these ribbons on your chest?”
“These they’re just coquettish emblems, for the vanity of the officers. They are the ones that enjoy seeing these on our chest. They mean nothing to me.”
You make a show of trying to rip the battle emblems off the front piece of you chest. You fail at this, as the ribbons are attached firmly to the cloth. In resignation, you turn around and walk away from this man. You try to escape from the glares and penetrating eyes of your family and associates, but you cannot.
Everywhere you have been since your return has been much the same. You are not considered a part of the family. That is how you feel it. Your sisters, who you used to entertain with fantastic stories of ghost and superheroes, are aliens. Your parents house, where you lived on the third floor with your own balcony overlooking garden leading down to the river seems empty, even when it is full of voices of the people you once loved.
It is this ghost world that you now inhabit. There are others like you, but in each case, the situation is different enough you have no comrades. You are all members of a freak show, and no one will be amiable enough to foster any kind of friendship. There are men missing limbs, or with severe burns. All these different men look at you in the same way you look at them. There is a certain level of contempt. You rationalize to yourself. At least they still have their face. They hate your mobility, you having both hands. If you gathered three or four of them in a room with you, there might be enough material to create one whole man.