Cuvelai

When we finally crushed Cuvelai during Ops Askari 1984, we rode victorious into the town. It was a costly battle concerning own losses and wounded. 

And then when the enemy do not shoot at you anymore, you feel a unbelievable sense of gratitude. You look around and see the fallen Fapla soldiers. You count your own and they are all with you. Your own body filled with adrenalin, like theirs, you are still a fighting machine. You are glad that it is over, but in a strange sense, you do want more. When the “civilians” from Cuvelai with a white flag approach you from the town ankle-deep in the soggy mahango fields, you know that they were soldiers hours before. Your instinct and your journey of destruction the past few days told you: Mow them down like pigs, that is what they deserve after 31 December and 3 January 1984. That is what they deserve after so many dead buddies in Ovamboland for many years. That is what they deserve for indirectly depriving me of a normal life. For forcing me to kill a human being with intent. And then I saw a pig maimed and in great pain in a pen meters away from my Ratel. And I felt sorry for the animal. I shot it from pure empathy. Then my anger disappeared. I knew I would not be able to shoot to kill one of those fake civilians unprovoked. In a second of time I understood so much and yet so little. I suppose that sudden insight prevented me from destroying the human soul embedded in me.

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