Once, I met a man who was a soldier in the World War II. He kept on telling me stories on how people were really oppressed before, how frightening each day could get, how terrified the people were, and how bloody the war was.
Then, I noticed that whenever I’m inside his small nipa house, he would never get up from his seat. If he needs a glass of water, he would always ask me to get one for him. Sure his old and stuff like that but, he doesn’t look that weak to me. I feel as if, he is stronger than I am. Once, I even saw him buying some groceries, alone, without any crutches supporting him.
Because of me not being able to hold my curiosity any longer, I asked him why he never stands up whenever I’m around. He sighed then laughed. Then he asked:
“Do you really want to know why?”
I just stared at him. He smiled.
“I had a sister once”, he started. He gazed deep into my eyes. “She was very precious to me. She was pretty young, back then. She was very beautiful, as well.” He sighed. He closed his eyes then I noticed that there was a dew of tears forming at the corner of his eyes. “Since she was beautiful, a foreign soldier tried to… take advantage of her.”
I looked at him, more anticipated than before. “What happened… then?”
He opened his eyes and a tear rolled down freely. He looked at me. “Do you really wanna know what happened next?”
He faked a smile. He breathed in, trying to stop the sorrow from overwhelming him. “I loved her very much. I still love her up to now.”
“Is it okay if I know what happens next”, I asked him. I felt guilty for having said that.
He pressed both of his lips. “Fortunately, I was there. I fought the maniac. It also took a while since he has a gun and a dagger with him.” He gulped. Tears started flowing once again. “I told my sister to run, but, I never knew that the maniac has some friends with him.” He closed his eyes, tightly, trying to stop the tears from flowing. He bit his lip. “Then, they took her. I tried fighting them but I was outnumbered. A part of me was severely injured that I needed to take ‘surgery’. “
I felt tears rolling from my eyes now. I just imagined how sad this man could be. I gulped. “How much do you love her?” That is a question that I regretted, once again.
He looked at me with his blood-shot eyes. He raised his loose pants, revealing a thick strap of metal attached to his right knee instead of flesh.