Brothers of Battle
Author's note: I decided to write this after seeing a photo. It was a photo of a man in a man in uniform crying... Show full author's note »
TrainingChapter 3. Training
It’s already been a year and every moment I wondered how Kazuma was doing .. Father acted as if he didn't notice the absence . “Father , have you heard anything about Kazuma?” only for him to reply with a soft grunt of distaste.
We stood in the training camp with young men holding their guns awkwardly and shuffling their feet. Most of these men in my eyes were young boys , with excitement or fear over what’s to come. The supervisor marched mechanically , his name was Tokiko Yamada . He was a veteran of wars with a potbelly that was accented by his strange western styled clothing. Yamada was known very well for his past triumphs but now has the humble career as deployment trainer. He barked to the boys “ BAKA!!” They flinched not even knowing what they have done wrong. He walked down the line as the boys looked down afraid to make eye contact. “Are you prepared to die for the sake of your country ? If you are not then your shame will kill you before the enemy!” Father then stepped forward as Yamada changed demeanor. Saying in a cheerful voice , “ Not only I will help you become men but so will Yokyashi –san.”
Father pulled my sleeve and gave a nod. Weren’t they introducing my father? The young boys and Yamada-san bowed deeply to us and father gave a small bow to me. “ You listen to everything Yokyashi –san orders or you will face punishment!”, before exiting the field.
I knew that this was the beginning.. All my years of training led to this first step . In front of me were the boys to become my soldiers.
Hours went by with the embarrassing lack of skill these boys had. Cadet Imuno held his gun as it shook rapidly. “ Hold the gun up to your shoulder and breathe slowly..” He coward his head into the gun tilting it at a angle. “Hai Hai!” The gun still shook and he shot without any aim or direction . “ Gomenasai!!” he whimpered before falling on the grass shaking. How is it he could be so fearful?
“Cadet Imuno .. Have you ever shot a gun before?”
He stayed down but covered his trembling knee caps “ No sir.. I am very sorry for this inconvenience.”
As Imuno mumbled more apologetics, all I could think about is how much he reminded me of Kazuma..
The evening came and us leaders were to meet in the dining hall. When I arrived it was all older men laughing with the finest sushi and tea“ Ahh General Omorada , have you heard about us taking over Boneo, but that’s not all! They don’t even know what’s coming to them in the Philippines!” giving a loud snicker. Omorada noticed my eavesdropping and turned slowly with droopy eyes. “ Oi ! Looks like we have a little spy!” Before giving a big smile and slapping my back . “ Aomori –san this is the famous Sergeant Yokyashi that everyone is chatting on about!” Aomori a older man with a thick mustache took a swish of tea “ Ah I am well acquainted with your father and very honored to be working with his son” Omorada interrupted , So.. do you have any skilled cadets ?”
I didn’t want to tell him the truth that these kids weren’t even fit to win a card game, let alone a battle.. “They have much to learn but are dutiful .” Omorada laughed loudly “Ah but of course you will make SAMURAI out of these boys!!”
It was uncomfortable oddly with these men.. I tried socializing but it just left a bitter taste as these men slandered the true meaning of a soldier.
“Sumimasen ..” before exiting and passing the barracks. Outside I saw Imuno wearing a monks robe praying .. and the other boys showing off pictures of their girlfriends. “ Kanakoi –san you have to admit that any man who sets eyes on her falls in love!” Kanakoi yelled “ Iie ! Unless you are attracted to women with the face of a carp.” The man showing the picture punched him as the other boys yelled at the scene. Another boy yelled out to Imuno saying “I bet you’re just the ladies man !!”, disrupting Imuno from his prayer.
Kanakoi looked up from the taunting and I realized that I was yet again eavesdropping.. “What are you looking at?” Kanakoi said bluntly. I already knew a bit about this man.. He came from a rather poor part of Osaka and was never taught any manners.. Not only did I have trouble comprehending his disrespect but also his accent and informal way of speaking.
“ You will address me as Sergeant.”
Kanakoi turned his head and squinted his eyes. “ We’re not in training “Serge—ant”” , slurring his words. He went on to say “Just turn around and eat your fancy food and leave us be. ” ,waving and giving condescending snicker. The dark brown wavy hair he had was slicked back and the bristle on his face was scratching as he went back to the conversation.
Somehow I was going to teach them respect..
Sitting down on the hard steps with my uniform on, the boys were silent and Kanakoi turned and had his face close. . “Huh.. you want to play a few rounds big shot?” pointing to the cards on the dust. “ It would be a pleasure.”, while he shuffled the cards. “But like anything there is a price.. So what are you going to cough up?”
I looked in my pockets and found a trinket watch that one of Father’s friends gave to me. It was expensive and Kanakoi knew it when he had the glimmer in his eye.. He threw down all the money he had in his pockets “ I’ll pawn it and get much more than this when I beat your ass.”
In the corner of my eye I saw Imuno glaring at the us gambling as he moved father away. Kanakoi handed the cards , keeping a blank face “ You can back out now if you want .. Don’t worry I won’t tell your buddies .” He was bluffing , only hoping I had a worse hand...
“Straight Flush.. I win”
Kanakoi threw down the cards and knocked over the pile. “ You Bastard! I know you cheated!!!” I replied “ I give my word that I did not cheat .” His face was red and the boys held his arms “Just take it!!! All you bastards do anyway is take !! Eating your nice food, living in big houses , doing whatever the hell you want while we fight everyday!!”
He had so much passion and rage! I don’t even know this man so how could judge who I really am? His voice was loud and rang in the empty barracks and Imuno went silent . This was the first time I have ever met a man who challenged my authority.. someone who thought I was like a pesky mosquito or the scum in a pond. The last person who was this angry at me was Kazuma.. but this time I am going to do something about it.
I handed the watch and his money to him but he threw them on the ground “Don’t pity me!!!” as I walked away. Now was not the time to strike.
The last thing I heard in the distance was “Run away coward!!!!!”
Coward.. what a ugly word..
The night is warm and the grasshoppers are ringing loudly .. The taste of tea permeates and I’m hoping for a peaceful night. A night where I don’t see the horrors of war so vividly, or a night where I don’t toss and turn and feel guilt for things that happened so long ago.. No sounds of gunshots.. screaming , or the haunting voices of lost loved ones.
It is always when I dream, when I’m at rest that this occurs but I must live on and be at peace with all the voices within.
It was late in the hot evening and most of the boys were passed out in the small beds happily, boots everywhere and uniforms hung neatly. The radio softly played the latest hits with static in the background… Imuno was in a bunk by himself ,breathing deeply facing the wall, does he always feel he has to isolate himself? In the back Kanakoi was smoking and cracking his knuckles. He heard my footsteps and grunted “ I told you Emokawa you can’t borrow my socks!” before turning and seeing he was mistaken.
Before he reacted I intervened “ I had to wait till you calmed down..” His jaw was tight and he mumbled swears under his breath. “ I needed to wait because I wanted to spare you from any embarrassment but you could’ve died today. Kanakoi snorted “From what are you going to cheat more money out of me.”
I replied “ No.. but if you spoke to another higher ranking officer earlier like that then you would have been bayoneted.” He tried to hide the shock when he imagined the brutal death. It was silent besides the loud frogs when Kanakoi said “ You spared me because I’m not worth the time?”
“ You’re wrong again. I spared because you are worth the time. I want to make you a honorable soldier . When you spoke your mind and held on to what you believed it showed you are meant to be a true leader.”
Kanakoi blew a puff of smoke and acted like the words were vague and meaningless. He leaned back on the cool wood “ Ahh I’ll try to buy into that! It’s just funny that you’re speaking to me like some wise old samurai , when I’m just a poor , smelly , fisherman!” , laughing loudly. More silence went by.. “ I need to sleep for tomorrow ..” before giving a wave of the hand and throwing his cigarette out.
Exiting the barracks I said my final word “ We start at dawn soldier..”