Calita glanced through the tiny window by her bed below one of the four bunks in Room 17, Block 2 of Zone Barracks located at the capital state of the Country. She watched as the young soldier trainees marched past the field which had been newly cleared by junior soldiers exclusively herself and few others; they had just ended their basic training usually called ‘Bootcamp’.
They had been recruited ten days ago in preparation for the proxy war. Meanwhile she had been at the Barracks for over three months now, she remembered vividly how she had ended up here. Being the fifth child out of eight children, her mother had chosen her to join the Army since it was made a law that each family in the republic state of Zonta should produce a representative for the proxy war against the Republic State of Antras; the two countries were engaging in the war because of their respective colonial countries.
It was no surprise her mother refused to allow any of her three sons to be enlisted in the Army even when Obanga, her immediate elder brother offered to join. She defended her decision with the claim that her late husband had told her in her dream never to allow any of his sons join the Army, so she had been chosen because her mother saw her as unimportant and useless in the home.
“You’re too quiet, dull and ugly,” were her mother’s words, painful but true. She couldn’t change her personality, she had always been that way since childhood. Her sisters were beautiful and got presents regularly from boys, but she never did; maybe because she didn’t flaunt herself on them like her sisters did or it could be because according to her mother she was ugly.
She picked up a small mirror from her bed locker, looking at her reflection wasn’t a problem but seeing the same birthmark that cut across her left eye and left cheek which made her look more like a villain sent shivers down her spine. As she glared at the mirror she knew she would have been more beautiful if the birthmark wasn’t there.
Suddenly, a bell rang, it was time for the Commander to address every soldier in the Barracks. All the other female soldiers in her room hurried out, she grabbed her uniform jacket and threw it over her shoulders, she buttoned up as she joined the others.
It was the day of the war, every soldier of Zone Barracks stood in a long queue retrieving their arms and ammunition in preparation for the war. According to their judgement, they were completely set for the war, clad in their uniforms with bulletproof, and with AK 47 hanging by the side, held down by the khaki’s belt fastener. Sounds of cocking guns engulfed the ‘not quiet’ atmosphere. Calita took in a sharp breath as she replaced her gun back in its position after cross checking it, her heart was pounding out of her chest and palm was becoming damp with sweat. She couldn’t comprehend why she was suddenly nervous, this was the day she had always been waiting for, wasn’t it?’ After this war she would finally become a free citizen and civilian, then live her life the way she had always wanted.
She remembered clearly the discussion she had with her best friend, OJ, at the Barracks. She stood with her chin held high as she recounted the number of times she had proved her soldiering prowess during their many trainings. She and OJ had planned to further their education into higher institutions of learning after their release from the Barracks as soon as the war ended.
“Every soldier should file into the war ground, war is about to begin, attackers draw near,” came a penetrating voice from a megaphone which reverberated around the atmosphere. Stamping feet were heard as every soldier marched towards the war ground. Calita hurried on with the last words of the Commander resounding in her ears,
“The beginning of fear is the beginning of failure, think like a king and fight like a lion.” She mustered up courage and marched on with her fellows to fight the war which her life depended on it.
Songs of victory filled the air, the republic state of Antras had been defeated during the war which cleared their army of soldiers including their Commander, though a little more than half of the soldiers of the republic of Zonta were killed and many injured, but they had gained the victory of the war. The dead soldiers’ remains were taken away and given befitting mass burial for their heroic death of dying for the country, information sent to their family members and they were mourned for several days.
Calita limped to the Commanders’ office the day every temporal soldier was to be discharged from the Barracks. She had sustained injury on her left thigh during the war but thankfully she was alive, she couldn’t be happier. The Commander had requested to see her before she left, the reason of which she knew because he had been trying to persuade her for a long time, to consider joining the Army permanently, his reasons being that she had the stamina, strength and charisma of a soldier. No matter what he said her answer had always been negative, she knocked twice on his door and entered after an invitation.
The meeting was brief as he only wished her goodluck and fast recovery, he didn’t bring up the other issue, surprisingly to her. She came out and started towards the gate in search for OJ whom she had pleaded to wait for her. Ahead of her she saw some soldier trainees being tutored on how to pull the trigger of AK 47 guns. She was aware that they were permanent soldier trainees, she smiled wryly at them as she thought of all the experience they would encounter.
As she walked past them, she saw OJ standing by the mango tree at the gate, she waved at her when they caught sight each other. The khaki had done a good job of hiding her figure which were quite evident from her straight royal blue gown.
A loud gunshot was heard followed by frightening noises and screams as one of the trainees had carelessly fired a gun, the whole place was thrown into pandemonium as everyone was running to a direction shouting. OJ screamed in tears as she watched Calita lay lifeless in the pool of her own blood. The soldier doctor hurried through the crowd to examine Calita and rush her to the Barracks’ clinic, in the hopes that she was still alive. He heaved a sigh of frustration as he stood up from where Calita laid
“She’s dead,” he announced and OJ’s cries clouded the atmosphere.