County-house is a paradise for children. There are three months of summer vacations to enjoy, all your friends are here and all what is required of you is to come home for dinner and supper. From early morning we are playing with other kids, we are playing football and catch-up. But war games are our favourite games! We all have toy guns, me and my brother we both have cap pistols! And though we’ve lost almost all pistols, our status among other fighters is very high, because our guns are copies of the real weapon and Chinese toy plastic guns will never come close to our iron guns!
And it’s time for a new game today: we divide into groups, think up secret unit staffs, challenges and passwords. Our eyes glow with excitement – boys or girls, it doesn’t matter! It’s a war! We must catch our enemy, question where is their base, what is their password and where do they keep weapon – we are like adults! The game begins…
I’m running and hiding in the scrubs and ravines for a whole hour, I’m slipping away from my enemies and tracking them. Tired of running, I make an ambush near the river; sooner or later someone will come here, because it’s very hot, they will want to swim. That’s exactly what happened. Fifteen or so minutes after, the youngest girl from the opposing team came to the river. I felt more than a touch of exultation: I can easily capture her and ask about the password and base! I sneaked up behind the girl and grabbed her hand. “Got you!” The girl looked at me, almost crying. I dragged her after me to our base, located in the arbor in our yard. The girl was silent, she only sobbed helplessly from time to time. For a moment, I felt sorry for her, but how could I, the boy with a cap pistol, show any weakness? We came to our base and I began to interrogate her: “Masha, what is your password?” Masha looked down in silence. “Masha, what is your password? Where is your base? Tell me or I will have to torture you! You are from the enemy war band! I have to get information!” Masha shook her head without looking up. Masha! It was useless. There was nothing to be done but to employ a heavy-handed approach. Sometimes we used nettle to torture our prisoners or made them eat a sour apple and sometimes it was enough to say “now you will be tortured” to make an enemy to disclose information. I run to get nettle. But when I was going to tear it, my grandfather grabbed my hand. He shook his head and went to Masha. He greeted her, said something that made her laugh and offered her to go home and have her dinner. Masha run away. Grandpa set next to me.
- Sasha, do you know that I went through the war?
- Of course, I saw all your medals.
- Do you know how did I get those scars on my back?
- I don’t remember. Did you fall?
- No, Sasha, I wasn’t falling. When I was 17, I was captured by a few Germans. They also wanted to know where my base was and what plans did we have. But instead of nettle, they used matches and lashes. When lashes didn’t work, they fired a branch and waved it against my back.
-Grandpa… is it true?
-Yes. Unfortunately. That’s why I don’t like your game at all.
-Grandpa, it was just nettle! And I wasn’t going to beat her, I wanted to frighten her.
- Sasha, grandson, I think that torture instruments got nothing to do with it. It’s important to understand that in this game you allow yourself to be cruel. That girl is younger than you, she is weak, but you’ve forgot about that, because she is enemy and she knows what you need to know. Real wars begin with such games – humans just forget they are HUMANS and break, crush and destroy everything to achieve their goals.
We were sitting in silence for a while. I was thinking about the last time when I was tortured with sour apples; I was feeling myself as a hero, but it wound my pride and I was very angry at my enemy. Maybe that’s why I captured a girl that was his sister? Maybe that is what my grandpa was talking about?