W.A.R

W.A.R

A Story by Usman Muhammad
"

Left forever

"
I was too afraid to go to war. All I could see were faceless faces with fear hovering over them -- fear controlling their actions; in fact, their whole lives. It was all visible to me like I was some wandering soul observing them. Everywhere in the city, panic among people was easily visible, in their actions, in their movements and most importantly in their souls. I concluded that it was fear of getting killed or in worldly terms "Fear of death". Yes fear of death , the only force in this world which can make you do something miraculous or can make you so weak that you can't even feel yourself. So it was war where young ones like us were supposed to give their lives for no reason other than "Dignity". Whereas I was not ready for it. I never wanted to go to war but it was not me who could decide my own fate but it was upto my family, and between me and war they chose war. They told me, never looking in my eyes, that it was good for me to go to war as I would learn a lot. But my eyes were asking them why ? Why me ? Was it that they never wanted me here and that all their affection was some mirage or maybe just because I was unworthy of them, that my life was of no value to them, but their life was important, very important.
    Our fate was decided. Me along with my childhood friends Russell and Warren were supposed to sacrifice OUR lives for the honor of their country, a country where honor was reserved for those of no value.
[[Battlefield Scene] I could see, in front of me animals, animals looking for animals different in uniforms to justify their worth in front of their commanders. War is no place for humans but a field of glory for animals.Where animals are trained to have no conscience, no feelings of love but to kill. The war began when the crack of a gunshot was heard. With rifles in our hands  and galloping on our horses. My whole body was trembling with fear. My aim was no near close to my target . At that moment fear got me in its grip. Death was certain and I was ready for it as my horse was carrying me to death, peaceful death. Maybe I wanted to experience what it felt like to be dead and it was a matter of time before i was lying down, taking my last shallow breaths, welcoming peaceful death. But time ceased to exist at that moment. It seemed to me like everybody was halted by AN invisible force. All I could see were faces, with fear on them, thoughts of life which seemed to me as fragile hopes. In short Life Above all.
    On my right, there was Russell who was looking at me with pleading eyes as if asking me "Andrei why are we here? What are we doing? Look at them... I want to go home. My mother is waiting for me at home. Oh my God, I didn't hug her when i left for war, I want to hug her, i want to tell her she is everything to me, what have I done...oh my God don't take my life. I want to live, I was never meant to be here. Let me live with my mother or she will die with me too.... " I could see tears in his eyes, tears of fear, tears for mercy, tears to amend every mistake he has done in his life but he knew these tears could not save him from what death has to offer him.
    There he was, Warren. look at him, his eyes were as cold as ice like he was dead a long time ago, like he has came to senses for a moment and was ready to feel death again. Look how brave he is....no,  maybe he has accepted his fate, seen death molding it in his hands and decided to live with that decision. To Live with death forever.
    Here I was, observing everyone like I knew everyone . But what if time HAD ceased for everyone? what if they were looking at me like a moment before when I was looking at them? What would they see in me?..... coward, a hero or some wanderer without hope?
    To me, it seemed like my life was like a single drop in a vast ocean. An ocean where beside memories nothing existed. An ocean which depended upon wind for its movement and it had been this wind carrying me everywhere in this ocean of memories. It had been taking care of me since I entered its territory but now it has decided to leave me along  THE shore. Now I am supposed to absorb as much memories as I can get and evaporate towards the eternal rest. So who was it that took my happiness away? Was wind my family? Was wind death who left me on shore to die? But why? I wanted to see life in its true meaning but everything was taken away from me. What if Wind was doing me a favor?.....[Everything goes black]
    Where am I? Thank God it was a dream. But why there is so much darkness in my room? "No no no..." I screamed in bewilderment. "I want to live, take me out, make me believe that it is a dream, it is not reality". No one responded to my screams. I was left alone.  Left alone in this darkness forever with death as my truthful companion. 

© 2016 Usman Muhammad



Author's Note

Usman Muhammad
Please don't forget to review. I would like to dedicate this story to Salaar Haider, who helped me a lot in every aspect of my life. To Edmund Reilly who helped and motivated me to write this story. In the end my respect to Sir Woody who helped me in correcting most of my grammatical mistakes.
One more thing
W=Warren .....A= Andrei..... R= Russell

My Review

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Featured Review

The amount of reviews you already have on this piece is unbelievable. I tried to read all of them, but I gave up around page 4, which is fine because people were starting to get repetitive. Moving on, for my reviews I don't really focus on what you did well, but that doesn't mean that I didn't like it. In fact I found this quite well written, even though it wasn't exactly 'enjoyable' I still liked reading it. A few of your sentences were beautifully crafted and really added a lot to your story. But I'm not really going to stay on this because SO many other people have told you what you did well and what they liked.

So I'm just going to jump straight into my critiques. And keep in mind, none of this is meant to be mean, these are just my opinions, so listen to them if you want or ignore them. And sorry, this section is going to be really long.
- JayG already touched on this a bit, but I’m not really attached to your characters here. I don’t know anything about them. Who they were, where they are, when they are. There’s nothing here that really links me to them, so, even though it’s an interesting read, it’s not the best story.
I’m not really feeling any emotions, you have some powerful lines, but you aren’t using them to their full potential. I’ve seen it, you can write fantastic lines and get close to expressing intense emotions, but it needs perfection. You need to pull me in and keep me there, and the best way to do that is with emotion. But JayG already focused on that, so I wont stay on it.

- Good start, but “All I could see were faceless faces with fear hovering over them -- fear controlling their actions; in fact, their whole lives.” Is a little repetitive, I’d recommend changing it to something like “All I could see were blank faces with fear hovering over them; controlling their actions and, in fact, their whole lives.” It gets rid of the double “face” and unnecessarily repeated “fear”.

- “It was all visible to me like I was some wandering soul observing them.” I would suggest changing this sentence to “Everything was visible to me, like I was some wandering soul watching them from the outside.” I think it gets your point across clearer and it fixes your small grammar problem.

- “I concluded that it was fear of getting killed or in worldly terms "Fear of death".” You have some extra words in this sentence that you really don’t need, they’re taking up unnecessary space. I would also suggest that you use bold and italics instead of putting ‘fear of death’ in quotation marks. “I concluded that it was fear of getting killed, fear of death.”

- “So it was war where young ones like us were supposed to give their lives for no reason other than "Dignity".” Same thing here, I think italics and bold would have more impact on ‘dignity’ than capitalizing it in quotation marks.

- “Whereas I was not ready for it. I never wanted to go to war but it was not me who could decide my own fate but it was upto my family, and between me and war they chose war.” This sentence has many problems in general grammar and phrasing. “I was not ready for it, I never wanted to go to war. However, it was not me who would decide my own fate, it was my family, and they chose war.”

- “Was it that they never wanted me here and that all their affection was some mirage or maybe just because I was unworthy of them, that my life was of no value to them, but their life was important, very important.” This sentence is just too long and it creates some problems that could’ve been easily avoided by splitting it up. “Was it that they never wanted me here, that all their affection was just a mirage? Or maybe it was just because I was unworthy of them, my life was of no value, but their lives were important – very important.”

- “[Battlefield Scene]” This is a really cheap way to go about this. I understand not wanting to describe things if you can just tell us and have us imagine. But you do a good job of describing other things that I’d like to see something here instead of just ‘battlefield scene’. It doesn’t even have to be anything big, you could just use a lot of short sentences to describe flashes of war. “Fighting was all around me. Blood, screams, pain, fear, death. The horrors of war lay before me.” Or something like that.

- “I could see, in front of me animals, animals looking for animals different in uniforms to justify their worth in front of their commanders.” While I really like how you’re portraying this, it’s a bit hard to understand, I had to read it twice before I figured out what it meant. “I was surrounded by monsters, animals looking for others in different uniforms just to prove their worth to their commanders.” I don’t think this conveys the same emotion, but it helps get rid of the repetition and adds in a bit more description.

- “Where animals are trained to have no conscience, no feelings of love but to kill.” For a better pull you should change ‘animals’ into ‘people’. I think make the line more engaging.

- “With rifles in our hands and galloping on our horses. My whole body was trembling with fear.” You could rephrase this into “With rifles in our hands we galloped out on our horses; my body trembled with fear.”

- “At that moment fear got me in its grip.” This line gives you an excellent opportunity to add in a bit more description “At that moment, fear gripped my tight.” Even if it’s extremely similar it helps portray how this ‘fear’ feels to the narrator.

- “Maybe I wanted to experience what it felt like to be dead and it was a matter of time before i was lying down, taking my last shallow breaths, welcoming peaceful death.” This phrasing is a little weird. “Maybe I wanted to experience what it felt like to be dead; it wasn’t long before I was laying on the battle field, taking my last shallow breaths, welcoming peaceful death.”

- “All I could see were faces, with fear on them, thoughts of life which seemed to me as fragile hopes.” I’m honestly not quite sure what you’re trying to do with the end of this sentence, but I’ll see what I can do. “All I could see where faces stricken with fear and thoughts of life, which seemed to me as fragile as hope.” I’m not sure if that helps, but the original sentence is quite hard to understand.

- Just a comment, Russell’s eyes seem to be asking an awful lot. I would recommend that you cut that section down a bit, I know it’s important, but after four sentences it gets a bit repetitive/predictable. I’m sure not all of his thoughts are important.

- “I could see tears in his eyes, tears of fear, tears for mercy, tears to amend every mistake he has done in his life but he knew these tears could not save him from what death has to offer him.” Small grammar things, but I do really like this sentence, “I could see tears in his eyes, tears of fear, tears for mercy, tears to amend for every wrongdoing in his life, but these tears could not save him from what death had to offer.”

- “There he was, Warren. look at him, his eyes were as cold as ice like he was dead a long time ago…” Are you saying ‘there was Warren’? Because that could be better rephrased as “Then, there was Warren” Also, it’s unclear if he’s dead or not. Is he? You may want to make it clearer if he is. If he isn’t you may want to make it less ambiguous.

- “.. coward, a hero or some wanderer without hope?” rephrase, “… a coward, a hero, some hopeless wanderer?”

- “An ocean where beside memories nothing existed.” Grammar, “An ocean where, beside memories, nothing existed.” Commas are important :)

- “It had been taking care of me since I entered its territory but now it has decided to leave me along THE shore.” Just some slight problems here, “It had been taking care of me since I had entered its territory, only now, it had abandoned me along the shore.”

- “Now I am supposed to absorb as much memories as I can get and evaporate towards the eternal rest.” The phrasing is just a little hard to read, also, evaporated is a very interesting word to use. “Now I’m supposed to absorb as many memories as I can and fade into eternal rest.”

- “So who was it that took my happiness away? Was wind my family? Was wind death who left me on shore to die? But why? I wanted to see life in its true meaning but everything was taken away from me.” I think it would be better if you said “So, who was the ‘wind’ that took my happiness away? Was it my family? Was it death, who cruelly left me on the shore to die? I just wanted to see life in its true meaning, but everything was taken from me. Why?”

- “[Everything goes black]” Again, this is kinda a cheap way to go about this. From experience, something like this only takes a time or two of text to write out. So I suggest you do that instead of making it a cue. After the previous line you could go “Everything began to fade into darkness. Soon, the world was gone.” Or something like that.

- “But why there is so much darkness in my room?” switch ‘there’ and ‘is’

- “I screamed in bewilderment.” I like where you’re going with this, but I would really like it if you described it more. What exactly is he doing? Give me some physical description of Andrei panicking, don’t just tell me he’s freaking out. Also, I don’t think ‘screamed’ is quite the right word, maybe for the following line, but not this one.

Overall, as I said, I quite liked the story, but it could be much improved. I'm sorry it took me so long to get to this piece, but I hope my review helps. And hey, keep writing, you've got talent (as many others have said). I look forward to seeing how you progress :)


Posted 1 Year Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This is a hard one for me. War but it is Inspiring and detailed description concerning the horror and hopelessness the human heart must struggle with. My best wishes to you as you work, learn and perfect your art.



Posted 1 Year Ago


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I dislike ...Well that's a weak word. I hate wars and violence in general. Except when it comes to defending the homeland. That's another story. Fear of death?Hmm.. I don't know. Death will take everyone sooner or later. I think people are scared of what awaits after it. All together a lovely piece. :)

Posted 1 Year Ago


I commend you for tackling the very difficult and - unfortunately - very human topic of war. However, it feels too distant and passive to have a lasting emotional impact. Zoë and JayG already brought up very good and relevant points, what I can add is this: You're using was/were a lot and those are weak, unspecific verbs. Try to rephrase and use stronger verbs to make the scene more dynamic.
E.g. You wrote: "Everywhere in the city, panic among people was easily visible, in their actions, in their movements and most importantly in their souls."
How about this instead: "Everywhere in the city, people screamed and scattered, their souls shaken/gripped/trapped/etc. by panic." See the difference? It sounds much more active and is easier to picture.
Furthermore, I'm not a fan of the bold words, because as a reader I prefer when the writer leaves me a choice which words are the most important. Emphasizing them by means of formatting always feels a bit patronizing to me.
Nevertheless, I think you've got great raw material her, it just needs refinement. Hope this is helpful!

Cheers,

Kali

Posted 1 Year Ago


Just the word... the very word is pain... is horror... is a nightmare. How powerfully you awaken the soul to the fear and tragedy of a world at war. It only ever takes, only ever swallows us whole, only ever destroys.

Posted 1 Year Ago


Usman Muhammad

1 Year Ago

Thanks for such thoughtful review. I am glad you liked it.
You asked me to review this a while back. It is quite a good story. With respect to minor edits, I will email.

Posted 1 Year Ago


What can I add???
Everything that could be said , has been said,
I liked it. ONE criticism only.....I'm not a fan of using bold text to highlight words or phrases. That said....Good job.

Posted 1 Year Ago


The irony...I was always against violence.
When my life is a box match, a new round every day.
Working out through a life time. ..
Heh. Always fighting, always at war with the world.

As for the wars raging through certain areas of the world...They are pointless waste of lives. Nothin more.

Posted 1 Year Ago


I must say you've conveyed the emotions even better then the writings flow

Posted 1 Year Ago


This is a very beautiful and powerful tale of war. I would call it a work of prose which highlights the downside of war in a vivid and profound manner. War never does good. Loss of life, property and environment takes place. There is no real winner in war. Well-written. Can do better. Keep writing.

Posted 1 Year Ago


The amount of reviews you already have on this piece is unbelievable. I tried to read all of them, but I gave up around page 4, which is fine because people were starting to get repetitive. Moving on, for my reviews I don't really focus on what you did well, but that doesn't mean that I didn't like it. In fact I found this quite well written, even though it wasn't exactly 'enjoyable' I still liked reading it. A few of your sentences were beautifully crafted and really added a lot to your story. But I'm not really going to stay on this because SO many other people have told you what you did well and what they liked.

So I'm just going to jump straight into my critiques. And keep in mind, none of this is meant to be mean, these are just my opinions, so listen to them if you want or ignore them. And sorry, this section is going to be really long.
- JayG already touched on this a bit, but I’m not really attached to your characters here. I don’t know anything about them. Who they were, where they are, when they are. There’s nothing here that really links me to them, so, even though it’s an interesting read, it’s not the best story.
I’m not really feeling any emotions, you have some powerful lines, but you aren’t using them to their full potential. I’ve seen it, you can write fantastic lines and get close to expressing intense emotions, but it needs perfection. You need to pull me in and keep me there, and the best way to do that is with emotion. But JayG already focused on that, so I wont stay on it.

- Good start, but “All I could see were faceless faces with fear hovering over them -- fear controlling their actions; in fact, their whole lives.” Is a little repetitive, I’d recommend changing it to something like “All I could see were blank faces with fear hovering over them; controlling their actions and, in fact, their whole lives.” It gets rid of the double “face” and unnecessarily repeated “fear”.

- “It was all visible to me like I was some wandering soul observing them.” I would suggest changing this sentence to “Everything was visible to me, like I was some wandering soul watching them from the outside.” I think it gets your point across clearer and it fixes your small grammar problem.

- “I concluded that it was fear of getting killed or in worldly terms "Fear of death".” You have some extra words in this sentence that you really don’t need, they’re taking up unnecessary space. I would also suggest that you use bold and italics instead of putting ‘fear of death’ in quotation marks. “I concluded that it was fear of getting killed, fear of death.”

- “So it was war where young ones like us were supposed to give their lives for no reason other than "Dignity".” Same thing here, I think italics and bold would have more impact on ‘dignity’ than capitalizing it in quotation marks.

- “Whereas I was not ready for it. I never wanted to go to war but it was not me who could decide my own fate but it was upto my family, and between me and war they chose war.” This sentence has many problems in general grammar and phrasing. “I was not ready for it, I never wanted to go to war. However, it was not me who would decide my own fate, it was my family, and they chose war.”

- “Was it that they never wanted me here and that all their affection was some mirage or maybe just because I was unworthy of them, that my life was of no value to them, but their life was important, very important.” This sentence is just too long and it creates some problems that could’ve been easily avoided by splitting it up. “Was it that they never wanted me here, that all their affection was just a mirage? Or maybe it was just because I was unworthy of them, my life was of no value, but their lives were important – very important.”

- “[Battlefield Scene]” This is a really cheap way to go about this. I understand not wanting to describe things if you can just tell us and have us imagine. But you do a good job of describing other things that I’d like to see something here instead of just ‘battlefield scene’. It doesn’t even have to be anything big, you could just use a lot of short sentences to describe flashes of war. “Fighting was all around me. Blood, screams, pain, fear, death. The horrors of war lay before me.” Or something like that.

- “I could see, in front of me animals, animals looking for animals different in uniforms to justify their worth in front of their commanders.” While I really like how you’re portraying this, it’s a bit hard to understand, I had to read it twice before I figured out what it meant. “I was surrounded by monsters, animals looking for others in different uniforms just to prove their worth to their commanders.” I don’t think this conveys the same emotion, but it helps get rid of the repetition and adds in a bit more description.

- “Where animals are trained to have no conscience, no feelings of love but to kill.” For a better pull you should change ‘animals’ into ‘people’. I think make the line more engaging.

- “With rifles in our hands and galloping on our horses. My whole body was trembling with fear.” You could rephrase this into “With rifles in our hands we galloped out on our horses; my body trembled with fear.”

- “At that moment fear got me in its grip.” This line gives you an excellent opportunity to add in a bit more description “At that moment, fear gripped my tight.” Even if it’s extremely similar it helps portray how this ‘fear’ feels to the narrator.

- “Maybe I wanted to experience what it felt like to be dead and it was a matter of time before i was lying down, taking my last shallow breaths, welcoming peaceful death.” This phrasing is a little weird. “Maybe I wanted to experience what it felt like to be dead; it wasn’t long before I was laying on the battle field, taking my last shallow breaths, welcoming peaceful death.”

- “All I could see were faces, with fear on them, thoughts of life which seemed to me as fragile hopes.” I’m honestly not quite sure what you’re trying to do with the end of this sentence, but I’ll see what I can do. “All I could see where faces stricken with fear and thoughts of life, which seemed to me as fragile as hope.” I’m not sure if that helps, but the original sentence is quite hard to understand.

- Just a comment, Russell’s eyes seem to be asking an awful lot. I would recommend that you cut that section down a bit, I know it’s important, but after four sentences it gets a bit repetitive/predictable. I’m sure not all of his thoughts are important.

- “I could see tears in his eyes, tears of fear, tears for mercy, tears to amend every mistake he has done in his life but he knew these tears could not save him from what death has to offer him.” Small grammar things, but I do really like this sentence, “I could see tears in his eyes, tears of fear, tears for mercy, tears to amend for every wrongdoing in his life, but these tears could not save him from what death had to offer.”

- “There he was, Warren. look at him, his eyes were as cold as ice like he was dead a long time ago…” Are you saying ‘there was Warren’? Because that could be better rephrased as “Then, there was Warren” Also, it’s unclear if he’s dead or not. Is he? You may want to make it clearer if he is. If he isn’t you may want to make it less ambiguous.

- “.. coward, a hero or some wanderer without hope?” rephrase, “… a coward, a hero, some hopeless wanderer?”

- “An ocean where beside memories nothing existed.” Grammar, “An ocean where, beside memories, nothing existed.” Commas are important :)

- “It had been taking care of me since I entered its territory but now it has decided to leave me along THE shore.” Just some slight problems here, “It had been taking care of me since I had entered its territory, only now, it had abandoned me along the shore.”

- “Now I am supposed to absorb as much memories as I can get and evaporate towards the eternal rest.” The phrasing is just a little hard to read, also, evaporated is a very interesting word to use. “Now I’m supposed to absorb as many memories as I can and fade into eternal rest.”

- “So who was it that took my happiness away? Was wind my family? Was wind death who left me on shore to die? But why? I wanted to see life in its true meaning but everything was taken away from me.” I think it would be better if you said “So, who was the ‘wind’ that took my happiness away? Was it my family? Was it death, who cruelly left me on the shore to die? I just wanted to see life in its true meaning, but everything was taken from me. Why?”

- “[Everything goes black]” Again, this is kinda a cheap way to go about this. From experience, something like this only takes a time or two of text to write out. So I suggest you do that instead of making it a cue. After the previous line you could go “Everything began to fade into darkness. Soon, the world was gone.” Or something like that.

- “But why there is so much darkness in my room?” switch ‘there’ and ‘is’

- “I screamed in bewilderment.” I like where you’re going with this, but I would really like it if you described it more. What exactly is he doing? Give me some physical description of Andrei panicking, don’t just tell me he’s freaking out. Also, I don’t think ‘screamed’ is quite the right word, maybe for the following line, but not this one.

Overall, as I said, I quite liked the story, but it could be much improved. I'm sorry it took me so long to get to this piece, but I hope my review helps. And hey, keep writing, you've got talent (as many others have said). I look forward to seeing how you progress :)


Posted 1 Year Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on April 16, 2016
Last Updated on April 30, 2016
Tags: war, sacrifice, family, friends, life, death, ocean

Author

Usman Muhammad
Usman Muhammad

Islamabad, Pakistan



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