A Son’s Pledge
Photo Manipulation by Zach Borromeo
As the bombs fall and everything around me shakes in protest, I strain to hear my mother’s words.
“Anak, I know this world is not an easy place, but please, take care of yourself. Peace may seem farfetched to you, but there should always be room for hope in your heart.”
It hurt to look at my mother during her last few minutes; despite being in so much pain, she still managed to express how much she loved me. Now, it is only her words that remain. I am no longer lucky enough to say I have someone to hold on to when all that is left to do is hide and wish that tomorrow would be a better day. I no longer have the only person capable of calming me down when paranoia is all I hear. I no longer have the comfort of a friend — the light that’s been with me since the very first day. .
I shiver as I hear another round of bombs being dropped all around me, my body trying to rid my mind of my mother’s final agony
Thoughts creep up my head as I stare blankly at the ceiling, struggling to remember the last night that I slept. I wonder, when it is finally time to go out and inspect the damage, who will be found sprawled on the street, with a face barely recognizable? I try to count: How many times have mothers gone home, only to find out that one — or all — of her children have died? How many times have I heard children shouting out into the darkness, yelling through the pain, searching for their fathers? How many times have I closed my eyes, thinking, “Don’t lose hope. Don’t cry. Don’t give in to the darkness.”?
Life has been bad for as long as I can remember. Death lurks in every corner, silently waiting for its next feast. It watches me with dark, soulless eyes, feeding on everybody’s fears, weaknesses, and cries for mercy. The uncertainty of who it will dine next has put lone souls on edge for as long as we can remember, but I’m not afraid of it.’
I am not afraid of death.
I am not afraid of anything — the only thing now that is familiar to me.
I am not afraid of dying the way my mother, and most of my comrades, have died. I am not afraid of having my limbs ripped off too easily, of being buried in the pile of wood and bricks I used to call home..
No, I am not afraid of my own death.
I am afraid of death claiming those around me.
I am afraid of slowly becoming the only person that I can talk to.
I am not afraid of death
I am just tired.
I am tired of listening to cries for help. I am tired of knowing that the people I grew up with are now in body bags, indistinguishable from countless others. I am tired of watching the depth beneath every eye I cross paths with. But mostly, I am tired of having to stay strong.
I am tired of fooling myself into believing that the chance of losing the people I have come to love is slim.
As the existential dread kicks in, and the sound of bombs gradually switch to moans of suffering, I am left picking up what is left of my humanity, and I swear, in behalf of my mother and all the ones I’ve lost, that for as long as I live, there will be one soul who is willing to fight for his people. There will be someone with enough spirit to stand up for what is right.
To Death, I say this:
I will accept you with open arms. Go ahead. Take me, with all the force that you have. Let me suffer; let me pay for all of the things my country did not do. I do not care, because I promise you, and all of the people unjustly punishing my homeland, that one day, justice will be served and peace will reign. One day, the tables will turn. One day, we will have our way.
I may die, but my country, my people, will not just survive — they will live.