“Colonel Gabriel. Your country is proud of all what you have presented. You served the army for 35 years. You showed an ideal self-discipline and a complete dedication to our military forces. You sacrificed your youth, health and dreams to shape the glory of our Nation and protect our pride and dignity. You were faithful to the principles of our constitution and gave the best of examples to the next generations. Colonel you are awarded this military merit medal for bravery”, the General of military finished his speech and moved towards the Colonel to award him his medal.
The Colonel salutes his General and keeps still. Straight looks, firm, serious, merciless and maybe ruthless and full of self-pride. They sum up a long successful career of steady hard work for a strong and sensitive institution whose values are: loyalty, duty, obedience, respect, service, honour, integrity and courage.
The colonel is among those who look forward to getting a high status to get admiration and respect and impose his instructions on the others. In truth, he does believe that they must be listeners and abide by instructions that come from above where wisdom and truth settle. However, power can be tempting but deceitful.
A few days after retirement, he can’t stand his new way of living although he tries to do many hobbies and busy his time with reading. He thinks that his home will stay that famous destination for those who look for advice or a push to climb the social hierarchy, but the unthinkable opposite will happen.
“why don’t we travel and see the world as most of people do after retirement?”, his wife asked.
“my presence is always crucial. I just change the place of work, but my status and role are always on duty.” he answered.
“try to forget the military and its troubles. You served your country, and it’s the turn of other young people to do the same and assume the responsibility. But you are obsessed by the military and you can’t free yourself!”, his wife explained. Her tone grows sharp at the beginning and she quickly succeeds to control her mood.
“you can’t blame me for my love and dedication to my country. I am a patriot in both deed and manner”, he said.
“but you didn’t show the same love and dedication for your sons and even your wife. You made our home a battalion of your regiment. You never said to me “I love you” and you always treated your sons as soldiers who are to receive orders and obey at once.” His wife said protesting.
“I gave my sons the best of education inspired from the spirit of self discipline and respect. Besides, I made people respect you ..” he went on as a dreamer who is delivering a speech to an audience of disciples, but she interrupted him and put in: “they seem to respect us but not love us. You can impose your respect, but love never.”
He didn’t reply and kept his usual conceited and proud behaviour. He never believes in communication. He never tries to be a good listener who is always looking for the truth and proceeds to some constructive self-criticism. The sole approach he believes in is: “receive orders and transmit.”
two years after his retirement, he feels a horrible change in his way of living because everything changed promptly but to the worst. His big home became deserted and seldom when the bell rings. It seems that all people who used to come asking his favours forgot the address or found another one. He stays alone with two servants who are looking after him. His wife deceased six months ago and his two sons emigrated and never pay him a visit or even ask after him.
He didn’t show them how to gain the love of the others, he raised them to be strong, self-reliant and emotionless instead. They didn’t grow attached to him or to humane manners.
Every night he suffers from insomnia and when it happens to him to fall asleep, he sees terrible frightening nightmares. In the last nightmare, he had a discussion with a soldier who was under his command:
The soldier: “my mother was very sick and I asked for a leave of three days to go to see her and you turned it down. And when I told you that she was in a critical state, you said to me that the military is our mother and we should be proud of the honour to serve it. You even sent me to jail for three days for disobedience and my mother died without my being able to see her.”
Every night he sees a nightmare that reminds him of one of his abuses of power. Seemingly, his subconscious has been dramatically feeling guilty and regretful for ages. His conscious awoke and the new way living made him see the truth.
The Colonel decides to see a psychiatrist and follows a special treatment for weeks but his state worsens and grows more sensitive.
The loneliness he lives at his age shakes his frozen emotions. He barely finds someone to whom he can address his instructions or simply talk to. He considers himself useless and unable to bear the feeling of ungratefulness that people awarded him.
He is now aware of the isolation he opted to during his days in power and can’t flee its imprisonment: his voluntary exile.
He seriously wants to apologize to all those he has caused some harm, but he can’t find them.