A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed

Backs bent double hags, we trudged through the sand. I looked all around me, I was being driven insane by the vast space of nothing but sand and sky. Like all Royal Marines, no one ever asked or wanted to do this, but there was no turning back now as I was already submerged into the centre of this scorching desert. I looked up at the sky, the sun was dominating and unforgiving, and so was the 20kg of gear that hung around my waist like dead meat.

I wasn't alone, I had a small group of 5 people, including my friend, Aadil. We both met through training and had been friends ever since, almost like brothers, and have even kept in touch outside the warzone. Our 5-man group set off to the war-ridden streets of Mosul just when I felt something sink underneath my foot. I looked down. It was a mine. There was a second of silence, then a bang as I was flung into the air like a ragdoll. Then, blackout.

I woke up. My joints ached. My head ached. My arms and legs ached. I looked up and saw two other British soldiers pulling me out of the wrecked and burning street and into the safety of an armoured jeep. I blacked out again.

I stared at the raindrops racing down my windows and at the cars passing by. It had been 6 months since the incident. I was treated for injuries, more than I could remember. Aadil had had similar injuries. I could still taste fresh blood in my mouth, I guess it must have been the flashbacks I kept on getting. I was meant to be recovering at home for 4 months but I knew I was not getting back on the battlefield anytime soon thanks to Covid-19. I decided to try and keep myself busy by doing everything except for contacting Aadil, although I kept promising myself time and time again to contact him. It doesn’t matter, I have lots of time.

The phone rang when I was about to bite the last morsel of my lunch. I picked up the phone. It was a Metropolitan police officer.

"Good evening sir, do you have a minute?", said the officer.

I could sense bad news dawning on me but I replied:

"Yes, carry on."

"Unfortunately, your friend, Aadil, took his own life, possibly because of undiagnosed PTSD. I am very sorry for your loss"

I cut the call. I slumped on the bed. I didn’t even want to think it was true. My mind went back and forth to try and think whether it was my fault. Then, the answer appeared. I should have contacted him. I should have asked how he was feeling. Maybe then, it would have all been different. But I couldn't bring him back now. It was too late. He died in vain.

Mirshath Mohamed