NCLA New Writing: ‘The Boy Belongs Also to the East’ by Sam Cross
“O’ what is that sound” my father said, the night I met the un-guessable. My dear-English mother in nightgown and slippers began to brew tea for a nation’s loss. It was a sense of duty, as potent and attractive as my youth, which brought me to this barren field’s cavernous gullet. I sat, eyes atop her narrow burrows, entrenched and squinting to glance through the aperture of a skinny horizon. I could see through the opening between earth and crimson-ash sky; I could see the floating embers of a country’s ruptured life-blood. Our field heaved in agony and as she did so the narrow entrance winked back at me. Such a keenly seductive circumstance was propelled by the abrasive wind, which at once pushed the disarming smog both one-way and then another. One thing was almost certain; beyond that ominous threshold was something unimaginable, something unlike the human life of domestic drudgery. The inviting summit was a place from which he might not return.
The cacophony he heard now was nothing like the symphony described by those who had not been there. Where were they who had orchestrated his courage and his bravery? Where was the great conductor who had begun the events that had willed him here?
The stars did not guide him; the sun had left the façade and had never visited the interior of his post, and the moon had been packed up . For a moment time stood stock-still. “Stop all the clocks”, my father shrieked. Fear abandoned him. The great eye of a thousand barrels opened once more to will him onward and he saw the sharp luminosity of moonlight again. Whilst the sun had not the power to penetrate, lunar light stole through the denuded furrows, reuniting the boy with short-time honoured friends.
She stood before me, a mirage in winter. I marched toward her and in my innocent embrace I clung to her. She was wisdom, grace and beauty, ornate and mystifying. She was the potency of the east, stood on my corrupted soil and she was contained in filigree chains. My uniform-buttons intertwined in her flimsy gold as she undid me. “Do not leave me mother”, I began to whisper. “Child”, she spoke with a sonorous, tolling voice, “I wish you had found me sooner”. She held her boy as he left, dressed, button-less, in vermillion, for a soil of shallow cares.
About this piece:
This piece explores the tragedies of war, harm based on cultural conflict due to ignorance, loss of young life, damage to culture and the villainous seduction of propaganda. Through multiple images of maternity, the piece questions the authenticity of the notion of a motherland, personifying earth in the form of mother and juxtaposing cultural representations of care. The boy belongs also to the East because he is a product of the earth, an earth that should be unified, not destructive to its most promising stock and its varied and brilliant cultures.