Seven thousand miles away, somewhere in Asia, in a tiny shanty made of rusty corrugated iron, in a little run-down village, a mother lights some incense sticks, then, while their fragrant scent wreathes her face, presses their stems into a sand-filled pot on the family shrine. She claps her hands three times, then presses the palms of her hands together, the fingers straight and pointing upward, raises her hands high above her head, and begs with all might for her ancestors to come to her aid.
Somewhere, between the two mothers, their sons crawl towards one another through the stinking mud of a rice paddy. Overhead, a parachute flare suddenly blazes, its brilliant light, equivalent to a hundred-thousand candles, making the rain-streaked night as bright as day.
In the blink of an eye hundreds of white-hot, steel-jacketed, missiles criss-cross the space between the two sons and their compatriots.
On the altar and on the shrine the mother's offerings gutter and go out.
The last of their smoke wreathes around the tapers then curls towards Heaven.
First published: August, 2011
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