Although 100 years ago may seem long distant, how can anyone forget World War I, that was so significant and severe that it should never be forgotten? This time for now I feel so touched and I fail to describe my feelings to write for those who fought for their lives against the government and non-government parts in the world. The voices may fast be disappearing, but valiant soldiers are still alive.
Before I want to trace the War, I asked my parents about the direct connections that few families or forefathers had to the war, but they were always reluctant to share their stories as it sweeps them away with tears.
Many poems underlined the descriptive view of the wars depicting the contrasts of nature, a fragile bird, with the horror and gloom of man-made war. Many-a-times, I poured in the thoughts of many places on the map for the information to decide on which sites may have the most meaning and visual impact. But on my virtual map journey, one of the things that stood out to me was how nature could take all the areas as normal on a natural level with trees surrounded by craters from exploded shells and mines. Sometimes the boundaries appeared as a barbed wire, surrounded by violence, and wild colourful flowers growing around it.
The feeling dragged me to the villages nestled within hayfields. The calm charm of churches in the little beautiful towns with few bakeries and farmhouses might have erased the depth of the war, but small plaques marked the memories. The land then tilled with explosions now have such exuberant elements since the war’s end. Nature does not really care what happened, but people do.
The tombstone, the monument or the statues depicted the memory of those warriors, sons or cousins, fathers or uncles who died during the war. Many might be so young as to be only in their teens. What may be the feelings of those people while paying a visit to the cemetery the day before the war ended? The sheer number of the dead people was numbing me, as if the whole population is erased at just one location, with appalling bloodshed levels and insane deaths as a rule of World War I.
People have photographs and postcards to recall the good times or wishes for the child’s birthday, sounding fragile and worried if they will be able to join back with their families. They are remembered as a hero of the war, pilots of the planes to shoot down the enemies and, of course, most of those who fought in the war were never memorialised as heroes. And the names of millions of them just hid and slipped into obscurity.
Times of mercy
Perhaps the love and remembrance of the war best illustrate the absurd and imperial scale of the war where soldiers fought till the motives were lost. Soldiers and their relatives marched in the streets where it was a merciful time to even greet or wave to each other, shipping alongside the dead, heading home, and disappearing once again as a small part of this huge machine of war.
Jashan Jot Kaur is a researcher at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.