Short Story: Childhood ruined by war

Description: Life of an ordinary family that changed after Russia started a war with Georgia

Submitted by: Nona

I awoke with the expectation of hearing my mother's gentle voice calling me to dinner. But instead, I was greeted by cold darkness. It was a familiar sensation – the electricity had been cut, a common occurrence during those days. As I opened my eyes, struggling to adjust to the inky blackness, I tasted the metallic tang of blood in my mouth.

Then it all came back to me: I was trapped in a prison cell, a place I'd called home for about a week now. The chilling cold gnawed at me, a constant reminder of my dire circumstances. My body ached from the gunshot wounds on my head and leg, and I bore the painful bruises etched across my skin. But far more agonizing than the physical pain were the haunting memories of chaos, the heart-wrenching cries of women and children, and the lifeless stares of the fallen.

I was in the midst of war. I was just a fourteen-year-old boy, but I had become a soldier.

In 1991, as the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union, we celebrated our newfound freedom. Yet, the euphoria was short-lived, and our nation soon plunged into internal strife. By 1993, a war had erupted between the Georgian government and Abkhazian separatist forces, aided by Russian military and hordes of North Caucasian and Kazak mercenaries.

My father, a prominent leader in Georgia's independence movement during the '90s, swiftly joined the Georgian military forces battling the Abkhazian separatists. News from the frontlines was scarce, and my mother anxiously awaited any word of my father's safety. Every day, buses filled with soldiers and volunteers embarked on perilous journeys. My mother would stand in line for hours, starting her queue at three in the morning, just to secure a loaf of bread. She was left to fend for me and my sister, shouldering the burden alone.

Three months passed, and my father remained absent. I was sitting in a geography class when my mother rushed to school, her face contorted with worry. The words she uttered filled my heart with dread: my uncle had been killed. That night, I lay awake, tears welling up in my eyes, as I remembered my father's words, "Real men don't cry."

Early the next morning, I gathered my father's old military backpack, containing a first-aid kit, pocket utility knives, a water canteen, and my hiking boots. In my determination to find my father, I retrieved his firearm, a stark testament to the troubled times we lived in. Georgia was a nation entrenched in constant conflict, and weapons were all too easy to come by.

My mother slept soundly, worn out from her daily struggles for survival. I pressed a silent kiss to her forehead and slipped away, knowing that my father was somewhere on the battlefield, and I had a duty to find him. I was just a boy, but I could not stand idly by while my country crumbled and innocent lives were lost. I believed that one day, my mother would understand the path I had chosen. I also understood that my childhood had come to an abrupt end.

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