WAR

   The events which followed loom in my memory like a yawning, dark pit. For next came the war.
   I can still clearly recall the first day.
   I had gone early that morning to the irrigation canal to let water out onto the field. Then I had cut off some mulberry twigs for the silkworms. In our village people raised cocoons.
   Yazii met me as I neared home with my bundle balanced on my head.
   "Kayum! War!" he shouted. "That's good," I said. "Our Red Army men will all get medals." Yazli even stamped his foot:
   "Idiot! Now things will be terrible for everyone! Everyone from seven to seventy-year-olds will be called up."
   "Who said?"
  "Mullah. When you get home you'll find out for yourself."
  I couldn't understand why Yazli was so upset. We played "war" almost every day. It was the most interesting of all the games.
   When I walked in the house I found Yazli's mama and several other women already there. All of them were crying.
   The Mullah had come to see Father. He said:
   "The Germans are a very aggressive people. They have already conquered more than ten other nations. And there's not one that can stand up to them.
   Father answered without raising his voice:
   "Mullak-aga, perhaps the Germans have conquered many other nations, but they won t conquer ours."
   "How can you say that, my son!" the Mullah exclaimed, wringing his hands. "The vanguard of the German army is made up of all those people they have subjugated. There are as many soldiers in their army as raindrops in a storm cloud!"
   "They have no more than we!" Father retorted.
   The Mullah left, invoking curses upon Father and our family, but it wasn t his condemnations which stole away my childhood.
It was the war.