Two countries were at war for the last so many days. Many soldiers had died in both the armies. The border areas were scenes of death and destruction. Each night the soldiers would return to their barracks, some wounded, some disillusioned and some vengeful. Others were dead and never did return.
One such night, a wounded soldier, knocked at a lonesome cottage in the sinister darkness. An old woman opened the door. Without any questions, hesitations or semblance of fear she let the young fellow in. He said brusquely, “I have a bullet in my arm. I need help.” She said, “Look son, I am all alone here. My son too is in the army, but he is not here. I’ll do whatever I can to help you. Sit down by the log fire and make yourself warm.
She brought him some hot tea and a few slices of bread. “Eat,” she said simply. The young man sipped the tea, looking around uneasily. He wasn’t even sure, if he was in his own territory. Should he ask the old woman? If it was enemy territory, she would surely find a way to kill him! Poison him perhaps! He was totally helpless. He had lost a lot of blood.
The old lady said, “Shall I help you to take that shirt off, maybe I could look at the wound.” The young soldier winced and said, “Nothing you can do; let it be.” But he knew that he needed help and soon. An hour later there was another knock at the door. Another young soldier walked in, “Mama!” he called. “Oh! It’s you my son. It’s been so many days. I’m so happy to have you home.” The son saw the other soldier and said, “Mama! Who is that?”
She replied, “Sssh! He’s just slept. Be careful, lest you wake him up.” The boy said tersely, “He’s the enemy Mama! You put us all into danger by letting him in.”
The mother said, “But, he’s wounded badly. Look son, enemy or not, you have to help him.”
The boy spoke some angry words but she stuck to her stand. The heated exchange of words woke up the soldier. In an instant he saw the new entrant and realized that he was at the mercy of the enemy.
The woman said, “This is my son, I’m sure together we can do something for you.” The old woman motioned to her son and together they unbuttoned the stranger’s torn shirt. Against his wishes, the son, upon his mother’s insistence, dug out the bullet amidst a continuous flow of blood. He cleaned it up, applied some ointment and bandaged it. “That’s the best I can do. You need to see a doctor.” “I’ll be on my way now,” said the soldier, making an attempt to get up, but not succeeding.
The old woman said firmly, “No way. You’re not going anywhere. In the morning, you may go if you wish to. But right now, you are under my care. Sleep now!”
In the morning after eating a wholesome breakfast of hot porridge, the soldier said to the old woman, “How can I ever thank you?” She replied, “By killing the enmity, not the enemy.”
The soldier was unnerved. He didn’t know what to say. Finally he said, “I’ll try my best,” he extended his hand towards the son, but instantaneously changed the hand-shake into an embrace.
*The soldier said, “We all need someone like your mother, to tell us that it’s the enmity that has to be killed, not the enemy. The ‘enemy’ is also made of flesh and blood like us and some of them have hearts of gold. I promise to try my best. I hope you will too.” The soldier left, but that night he understood the meaning of the term ‘brotherhood of man.’ He knew that only one weapon was needed to kill all enmities. And that weapon was LOVE.