This week I have been researching the role that thousands of dedicated Sikh solders from India played as they fought alongside solders from France and England in WW1. I have been looking at pictures of the Sikh solders marching in formation, lining the trenches and even pictures of the Sikh bicycle brigade. There are other pictures of the solders in a segregated “Indian hospital” where they were treated and cared for by English and French nurses and doctors.
I have been looking at pictures of war and reading articles and history books about war for more than four years. And am doing so again as I am researching and writing my next book. At first, when I began my research, it was very emotional to be constantly delving into the world of the wounded and dying. And now, many years into this reading and writing I do, I can search for information and am excited when I find what I am looking for and even more excited when I find what I am not looking for. But I am no longer needing to take breaks away from the horrors I read about and the shock effect of the pictures has grown dull.
This week however two people that I knew very well have passed away. One is the husband of a dear friend and the other a colleague and friend I taught with at Western WA University. Both of them died yesterday and tomorrow I will spend time with their families. And today I am so sad. Not in any mood to read or write of war. My grief would spill over into the sadness I feel at the lose of these friends.
This personal sadness quickly reminded me of the sadness of millions of people that have lost and will lose young sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, in ongoing conflicts. That just below the surface of my “dullness”, there is still the awareness that every one in the pictures I look at represent many more people that are loved and missed them and hoped fervently every day for their safe return. And many deal with the grief of loss.
This morning, rather than sit at home an feel like mush, I went to our wonderful local co-op, bought a cup of coffee and slowly walked the two stores of the floor. I love smelling the spices that always infuse the air, perusing the fresh vegetables and fruits, and watching people come and go. I also purchased six small pots of colorful primroses and came home and planted life into the pots on my front porch. Tomorrow I will begin again to write and research. Today I will take the time to remember.