“Today I reached my twentieth year in this prison and I think my family and country are forced to forget me forever. I have never received any letter since I put my feet in this place. I even forget the faces of some of my siblings”, said Rashid.
“This is our fate and we have nothing to do. We are deprived of any choice. I left behind a wife and two children and I sometimes envy you because at least you are single and you have no burden to worry about.” Said his roommate in a voice full of sadness and pain.
“But I have my parents and a brother and a sister. I am sure they went crazy after my disappearance. My marriage project to a woman I love and chose to spend the rest of my life with had ended at its beginning. I don’t know what happened to her and she knows nothing about me, maybe she has children from another man now.” The voice of Rashid sounded regretful and reflected the need of crying although his tears had stopped flowing years ago.
His roommate grew angry and desperate and said:
“I have to admit that I, from time to time, feel sorry about the sacrifice I ventured for my country and I wish I had chosen another path. I said to myself that I sacrificed my life and youth to people who didn’t deserve it. They left us and neglected our suffering here. We paid the price alone.”
Silence reigned and darkness prevailed.
Early in the morning, there was a knock on the door then a plate was pushed with some poor food from a hole at the bottom of the door.
The two inmates seemed uninterested in eating. Rashid was standing while his roommate Omar was lying on his bed.
“Try to stand and move. Your body needs motion to resist the imprisonment here.”
“Do you really believe in that? It is our mind that was paralysed. This cell killed every desire in life in my inside” answered Omar.
“Besides our bodies have suffered a lot. Torture, poor nourishment, no sunlight, no visitors, insomnia.. it’s a miracle that we can still move”, he added.
“You said it, our bodies didn’t give in and our souls are stronger. We have stood up to the enemy and he couldn’t undermine our bottomless determination. We will die like eagles with our heads looking high and never bend.”, Rashid said in fervent tone.
” We fought for a national cause and we will never regret that despite our compatriots ungratefulness”, he went on.
” I wish I had your faith but the darkness surrounds me from all sides and it has dwelt my soul for ages. I see everything dark and I stopped longing for a new sunrise.” Omar explained with a feeling full of bitterness and disappointment.
Both of the prisoners of war went silent and sank in their own thoughts. Two different approaches of coping with this compulsory imprisonment. One longing for the sun and the second felt already buried alive in the darkness of pessimism.
Omar lifted his face, smiled, and asked Rashid “I think that the sole source of your hope emanates from your lover, doesn’t it?”
“Maybe. I can’t deny it! but from my parents first”
“Do you think that she is still waiting you? She must have started a new life with another man and forgotten you. I am sorry to say this but I don’t want you to live under illusions”
“But a beautiful illusion that gives a meaning to my life here”
“What is her name?”
“Mhhh. Is she beautiful?”
“She is the beauty itself”
“Wow. This is love”
“The core of love. We used to live in the same town and she did choose me even if I was a simple soldier. My body shakes whenever I remember her smile and lovely words.”
Two hours later, the two inmates received an unexpected visit from an officer. He looked stern, ruthless and sadistic. He stared at them and sarcastically said:
“At last, we are lucky to know that you will leave this place and we will be able to breathe some fresh air after getting rid of your stink odor. Your presence here has been a terrible jinx to us. Tomorrow you will leave, prepare yourself.”
He turned and left quickly. The door was shut and a feeling of confusion invaded the two compatriots. They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know what to say. They lost all the words. A mixture of happiness, sadness and surprise dominated their emotions. They kept looking at each other inert and speechless. Finally they hugged, a strong hug that expressed everything.
The prisoners were received as heroes in their country and were awarded medals of merit by the army. Each one went to his town and met his family, friends, and neighbours.
Omar found the warmth of his family, gathering again with his wife and children and promised to do his best to fill the gap he had left for years and reward their patience. His children became teenagers now and were well looked after by their grandparents and uncles.
Rashid was received as a king by his family. His parents are still alive and his sister had gotten married and had three children now. One of them was named after him. He was so pleased and astonished that he couldn’t apprehend the events that had happened during his period of imprisonment.
He tried after his arrival to spend most of his time with his parents. Certainly they had aged but his return made them look and feel younger, keeping their broad smile on their faces and showing tenderness from the bottom of their inside. There was happiness but hurt by some pity for his Twenty years in the prison. Rashid was Forty- two, but for his beloved parents he was still a child that needed more care and love.
On the afternoon of an unforgettable day, Rashid was sitting with his parents after taking lunch. They were answering eagerly all his questions to help him keep abreast of what had happened during his absence. There was still something worrying him and he couldn’t reveal it to his parents. Maybe he felt shy or he would make them feel upset when they couldn’t tell him what he wished to receive as an answer. So he tended to hide it, but his parents understood him well and were aware of what he was looking for.
“I am so happy to be with you. I never thought I would be given this opportunity again.” he said.
“Bless you. You have always been our good son and our hope in life.”,his father answered.
His sister showed up and said:
“There is a friend of yours who wants to see you Rashid. Can I let him in?”
” a friend from your teens. I don’t know if you can remember him!”
“He didn’t say!”
“So let him come,please!”
After two minutes a middle aged person appeared and threw a sharp look at Rashid. A bright face full of hope and confidence whose features weren’t strange to Rashid. The person was his lover who had been waiting him until he came back. She declined all marriage offers and believed in her true pure love.
Their patience and faithfulness paid off and the couple lead a new life full of joy and expectations.