I Wonder…

This is a piece of mine that I wrote a while ago. It’s about what we, as a world, suffer— not just as humans. I hope you enjoy it and that it makes you think.

I am keeled over, clutching my belly. It hurts to swallow; there is a blade up my throat, a blade of hunger. I feel incredibly weak, vulnerable, and frail. Maybe if a breeze blows, I’ll snap in two and drift away. Something is clawing at the empty void that was once my stomach, trying to rip me to shreds, angrily demanding food. What can I do?  I try to silence it helplessly. I’m just as starved as you are.

The air is heavy with the tang of blood. Salty and metallic. Bodies lay on the ground, clothed in camouflage, and I’m not sure who is alive and who is not. My face is smeared with grime and I have a damaged gun in my hand. When did I pick it up? Whose is it? I do not know. It breaks my heart to see the faces twisted in agony, others drooping in grief. I can’t stand it, so I look down at the ground and gasp. The once-green, trampled grass is stained a rusty maroon.

The whir of chainsaws rings through the rainforest, followed by a deafening thud! This has been going on for months, and the lush jungle that once was is drastically thinning. Countless animals have been forced to migrate, and countless others have lost their homes. It is out of sheer luck my family and I have not. We are still living in the same tree as our ancestors of yesteryear, some of the first creatures to settle in this part of the jungle. The humans will come soon, though, with their yellow hard hats and corroded chainsaws to cut down these trees, home to entire ecosystems.

I am so excited that I’m practically bouncing out of my seat. The other people on the bus are smiling in amusement at my glee. Mother turns to me, saying, we’re nearly there and BOOM! There is a thunderous sound, and red, everywhere, and then all goes black.

When I wake up, I am lying down on a cot on the ground. My eyelids flutter open and it’s too bright. It takes a second for me to adjust to the sunlight. There are others stretched out on blankets beside me, all with labored breathing and blood-stained clothes. Then I notice the smoking husk of a bus looming in front of me.  A wave of panic washes over me and I jump up. Mother! I call out. Mother! I wait for my mother to weave through the crowd, take me in her arms, and stroke my hair. Instead, a man and woman wearing paramedic uniforms step up to me, looking at me in pity. Molotov cocktails, they say. Explosion. Miracle that you are alive! But I am not listening, because I have a feeling I know what they will say next. I wildly scream and shriek, kicking away the cots and even the paramedics as they try to restrain me. My mother is gone. But what have I done to deserve this?

I hate this shelter. It’s too dark, and too cramped, and too strict. But I guess anywhere is gloomy compared to home… well, what used to be home. It’s getting harder to remember, but I do recall that it was small but cheerful, with its walls all painted baby blue. I miss it so much. I miss everything about it, especially our backyard. Dad and I used to be out there all the time. We had just planted some strawberries when the bank official came and told us we had 24 hours to pack up and leave. He, Mom and Dad had sat at the table, talking for an eternity. Stay in your room, honey, Mom had told me, but I disobediently had eavesdropped through the door, listening but not understanding. Finally, they had come out, the bank official triumphant, Mom and Dad weary and distraught. We stayed up that night, packing, and in the morning, I had a home no more.

The biggest problem in the world… Is it hunger? War? Global warming, terrorism or economic crisis? Like a pleochroic crystal, viewed from different perspectives, the answer appears to be different, but if you trace every one of these problems back to their source they are essentially the same thing: the lack of empathy for other people and even for other species.

I wonder how it would be if we all agreed to switch places with others even for a short period of time to have a glimpse into their lives, hopes, and struggles. It could be an international protocol, integrated into our education. We would switch countries with foreign children, go and live in places we can scarcely imagine, so that from youth, we would learn to understand and respect each other as well as the environment and animals around us.  Would we be indifferent to the difficulties, trials, and views we have?  Would it help to cure this lack of empathy?

I wonder…


(Please do not use this story anywhere without my permission. Thank you!) 🙂