Pawn on a Chessboard

— Sathvik Nair

I saw it with my own eyes.
A streak through the sky.
A flash.
A crumbled building.
September 11, 2001.
How could this happen?
In the United States of America?
I went up to the man in the desk,
Signed papers,
Left my home,
My girl,
My degree.
For my gun,
My uniform,
And my new friends for a foray into an unknown land.
The men in the suits,
They told us it was for democracy.
To preserve the security of the lives of 300 million people back
home.
And I believed them.
Until the dreams of singing, the flag, and friends stopped.
And the nightmares started.
We kicked in the door, in an exchange of fire,
They put a bullet through his head,
One word escaped from the children’s mouths- Baba!
Another day– A girl was holding a box.
Her head covered with a pure white scarf.
Walking through the street.
Toward my squad.
The sergeant barked out- Stop! What’s in the box!
When she shook her head and furled her brow in confusion,
The order went down
And I squeezed the trigger.
A body collapsed.
A milk-white hijab bathed in blood.
A young man rushes out of a house.
In broken English I hear- I loved her! How could you!
Back in the States,
Medals line my uniform,
But scars line my chest.
They see a hero,
But all I see is a killer.

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