Battle of Gazala; my Story


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3. A Turn for the Worst

 

 

We ended up in a small one bedroom flat in a housing estate somewhere in the remains of Leeds. It really was a ghastly place, but what can you really expect for only a couple of pounds for a month. Leaking ceiling, peculiar and suspicious stains that turned up in the weirdest of places. Probably the most unhygienic building I had ever been in, don't even get started on the neighbours. I remember it clearly, the ragged mouldy curtains, and the peeling wallpaper. I remember the days when my mother had told me stories, stories about how things were going to be, how things would change soon. We’d live in a four story manor house in the country side, with 20 servants, including cooks to shoe shiners. We wouldn’t have to worry about any taxes, or any other payments for that matter. Our grounds would cover 2 acres, and would include a lake that would allow me to fish in, which we could then get the cooks to cook for dinner later, which would be magnificent itself. My mother would sometimes mention my father being there, I tended to ignore it, I didn’t want her to collapse again, after all, dreamers are dreams, and dreams tended to never happen. Then I’d be dragged back into reality, back to the stingy home we had no choice to live in. It was the sort of home which you got picked on for in school, with the added old and ragged second hand clothing I had to wear; school didn’t really seem like a nice place to be in, I was just lucky to still be in it. I was a good pupil, I had always tried hard, did extra credit, extra work, stayed back after school. Maybe it was an escape from the clustered and wrecked home life which I had to return to every evening. Don't get me wrong, I loved my mother, all she had done for me, all she had gone through, but there are always days which you have to wonder, ‘why me? What could I have possibly done to deserve this?’ there would always be days like this, it just seemed like it was always more for me.

 

       My mother had to have many jobs just for our upkeep, she worked what endlessly seemed like days and nights, it came to a point when she just didn’t seem like her anymore, like she had became a completely different person. Sometimes I wondered if she would fall back into her pit of despair, luckily for me, she stayed strong. So working hours at various different places of hell and factories, we managed to keep our living, staying thankful for what we had. I sometimes watched other people pass my window, wondering about their lives, what they had to go home to, whether it was any better than this junk heap. It probably was, you couldn’t get much worse than this. I know what it sounds like, I'm an ungrateful creep, not knowing what I have got, I knew I had more than others, but when watching those people go by, those happy people, people who could afford to be happy. My mum did try to make me happier, cheer me up, but most nights she would be too tired out from a shattering day of hard labour, if she ever managed to get home that was, sometimes she worked through the night, at least it gave me a bit of a chance to be independent, something people were lacking those days.

 

       So there I was at 15, pretty much an outcast, still lurking around the school after the bell, trying to do anything that would I wouldn’t have to return to the cluttered housing estate. I had now taken up a paper round; trying to earn a bit more money to possibly lower the stress of my mother’s tiring working hours. I hated my job, with an overpowered almost obese, sweaty 50-something that had an empty crevice for a heart, a man who defiantly needed anger manage sessions. The pay was abysmal, barely even scraping my keep, let alone putting a dent into the rising debt that my mother was too stubborn to let my grandma pay off. At least I had found a few people I could trust, people that were like me, like Tommo, we somehow had a mutual understanding of each other, without even telling each other things that were personal. We were outcasts together, and through that, we didn’t feel so left out or separate.

 

       I got through school, quite successfully in the end, continuing to go on to university. I picked up a few jobs around a couple of bars around the town. I pretty much worked endlessly, seeing as university wasn’t every day, I tended to have a few days spare which I used tirelessly to earn a bit of extra money which would pay the debts that had started to build up, especially the university fees.

 

      When I had passed 17, almost 18, my mother fell ill. The doctors didn’t know what it was, and so they had no cure. She was reaching critical and they still didn’t know what it was. She was tapped in a personal hell of a hospital room. And she was stuck there, barely able to move, or make a sound. She changed so quickly, from one moment being healthy and fit, her normal self, but then she suddenly changed, her skin was pale and clammy, and she was weak and tired easily. She was dizzy and feint, and even after all that, it took some persuasion from me to get her to go to the doctors.

 

       I found myself personally shutting myself off from the world. I was forced to stay with my grandmother; again, it was even worse considering my mother’s condition was so unstable. I was barely able to see her, my grandmother said it just unsettled her and made her worse and stressed. What a load of crap. Such lies. How can it be making her any worse, it was a disease, not a depression brought on illness. My mother still remained at the hospital, bed bound and stuck in a rut. I would try to visit her, as much as possible, but it was just too upsetting for me. I only forced myself to have to see her in this way because if anything, it made her feel a little bit better. I constantly brought her flowers, refreshing them every other day whilst she lay, barely able to open her eyes. What do you do when the only thing that made your days better wasn’t even able to acknowledge your presence? Nothing. That’s what. You continue. Go on with life, you getting in a state would just make things worse. So, that’s what I did. I stayed strong, and I think because of that, she stayed for as long as she did, kept on fighting, like my father had. I battled on, in the sense of my personal life at home. With that horrible woman I refused to admit that was even remotely related to me.

 

      I stayed strong, for my mother’s sake.

 

      War is stupid. An easy way to put it. But at the end, everythings more complex than that. So unnecessary, so unneeded. What’s the point in fighting, when you just get killed? Bruitilly murdered for something that wasn’t even your fault. How can that be justified in any way? How can war be justifiable in any way? Why can’t the world just be content with peace? Wouldn’t it be wonderful, a world of peace and tranquillity. A world, not torn apart by wars, a world where we can be safe. Imagine, all the families, which are torn apart by deaths over a war they had no part in the making of. Families being ripped apart like they were just worthless pieces of paper. But of course, it’s all very well saying why can’t war stop, but these days, power, greed and religion apparently trumps all, despite the lives at risk. How hard is it just to put differences aside and to create a better, more peaceful and a more civilised world? Impossible to some it seems. War is just a way for rich, prejudice men to fight by using usually civilised people to kill each other over something as obscure as a religion that sometimes they don't even agree with, even after being force fed with lives. They don't usually even fight themselves, they’re safe in their cubby holes with security, but no one else gets that, not the usual man. Why are we taking orders from someone who is already safe, and who is risking our own lives for us, making our decisions. Yes, the world is complex, but surely war isn’t helping.

 

       However, there are times where one has to give in. Peer pressure. Yeah, it sounds stupid, to cave in to others, but sometimes when your judgement is clouded, you don't tend to think about how stupid the idea is. That’s how I got dragged into this mess, the war. I turned 18, and with it, the tides turned. The war started, there had been rumours of things like this, but no one wanted to believe it. No one thought that there would ever be another war. No one really wanted the first one, let alone another. But there you have it, it happened. So of course, recruiters everywhere, just like everyone said had happened last time. Propaganda everywhere, supporting our troops and all that. One day they came down the street in a large truck, picking up men as they passed. They promised rewards beyond your dreams, women, pride, the chance to fight for a cause. Fighting for right – what rubbish. What are rights even worth in a world where you have to kill for them? Is it even worth the bother anymore, in a world such as this, where they can easily be taken away by a single man?

 

      There was a time when children were able to run around safely in the streets, not scared of an attack from an army of armed men. When thoughts of such horrible war scenes were laughed off, and when the probability of another war was a high as the probability of pigs flying. When every night you weren’t scared to turn on the lights or open the curtains with the threat of a shrill, piercing noise of a bomb coming straight at you. No, those times were gone. It was reality now, something you had to live with, you didn’t really have a choice. In the battlefield, it was now kill, or be killed.

 

      But then, that never mattered to me, I didn’t want any of those things, my father had, but look where it got him. Then it happened, the mentioning of something I was actually interested in. Money. Not for my own personal used, for my mother’s sake. With money, I could get her more help, more professional help, expensive treatment that she needed, and maybe, just maybe, she’d be able to recover and get back to her usual self. Then she’d be able to buy herself a house, a real home. I didn’t think. I was too quick to pull the trigger, to quick to make a decision. My friends had already joined, trying to pull me along with them. They all were shouting at me to come and join them, come and fight with them. I didn’t know what to do. Torn between two realities, the one with my mother recovering, and the maze of destruction that came with the war. Before I knew it, I was on the back of the truck, pen and paper in hand, writing a letter of apology to my mother, telling her I would return soon, and with riches, and help. I just hoped she lasted that long.

 

      So, here I am, marching towards my most likely unavoidable death, into the scene I had already committed to. Most likely about to follow in the steps of my father before, although I no love to fight for, I had my mother, and that would be enough. The world is cruel. The world is merciless. The world is wrong.

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