Bring The Boys Back Home!

* * *

Chad felt the need to take care of himself and ask for help only when he absolutely needed it.. ALWAYS.. They were getting late that evening, but if Pat did not want him to see broken up and torn, that is what she had to do, let him do things his way.. Even without ingesting soap water, he was bubbly she would joke, but that wouldn’t deter him from rinsing the last drop of soap water with such paranoia that it was annoying to watch or hear the water run out in the kitchen sink.. Then he filled up his refillable cup with beer and headed out to the garage.

“It is a ripoff to buy beer at these events, 6 dollars, I’d get a 6 pack for it, ALMOST!” “Agree Chad, but if we miss the concert, it is a 200$ loss and that is worse than the 6 bucks we just saved on your drink.. Right?! And, what are you searching for now?! Isn’t it time to leave??” “Almost there honey, I am just looking for Romeo’s tag..” “Looking? Ha ha.. OK OK, you know I am pulling your leg right, come on, here it is, I think he was playing with it when you took it off of him..” And now it was Romeo’s turn to resist wearing it, it was almost as if he knew what the big bulky leash read, “I am working, don’t pet me” “Are you sure you don’t want to take the train??” “No, no train, I remember the last time on our way back.. The concert crowd was drunk kids, out of control and out-of-bounds.. Oh, can’t deal with that rowdiness!”

As they sat in the car and closed the garage door behind them, Pat spoke, “Thanks for the evening, you know it means a lot! And better, Roger (Waters) is doing The Wall! Chad…………. Matt would have been thrilled, don’t you think?!” The phone rang in her sweater pocket.. “It’s Alyssa. ‘Hi Sweetie, yes, dad and I are headed to the concert now, wait, what, sure, but why? OK, hey, you are the one who is cutting me..!! OK, talk to you later honey.’ She wants me to call her right after the concert, and why can’t she tell me what she is up to, right now?! I don’t get this girl! What do you think it is??” “You should give her a break, you just have to wait 2 hours to hear what she has to say! Be reasonable, Patricia!”

PinkFloydTheWall - LP
PinkFloyd – TheWall, 1979

A 30 year long patient of RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) and with 85% blindness in both eyes, Chad had lived with blindness since the day he turned 20.. But, he was the love of her life and the best part, he shared the same tastes in Progressive Rock as she did and loved listening to Pink Floyd on LP records. 9 months after they first laid eyes on each other, his world turned dark with the genetic disease, but that only fostered their love for each other.. He was such a cool guy, he even agreed to be the best man for Alyssa’s ex-fiance in his wedding.. He was just that way, never found anything or anyone troubling.. So, it was not surprising that he was not annoyed by Alyssa’s little mysterious phone call..

“Atlanta traffic is a nightmare, thanks to my eyes, I don’t have to drive. Disabilities bring some advantages.. I can drink beer in the car and of course, like Seinfeld mentions, there is the ability to park in the best parking spots in the lot. He he”


For the cheerful Chad that he was, since the beginning of the year, he had been hiding a hole in his heart.. 13 months ago, to this day, he lost his son, his best friend and beer buddy, Matt, in the Combat Operation at Camp Keating in Kamdesh, Afghanistan. After months of investigations, the Military commanders would come to a conclusion that the there was a systematic breakdown in ground level operation tactics. That was all they got, after months of rejections and appeals for hearing with the Government.. Of course, they got the rugged boots that he wore, the day he died.. Chad would later learn a few more details from leaked US Military Internal investigative reports on the internet. His boy had survived 110 degrees of heat and humidity for 10 days in the camp with ONLY a dozen bottles of drinking water between 22 soldiers – But who was to know that the Taliban was waiting for his own service men to fail him.

The Wall Concert 2010
The 40 feet high WALL of ‘bricks’ is gradually built between the band and audience from the beginning to the end of the concert


In an hour, they reached the grand Philips Arena for the indoor concert. The cardboard bricks wall signifying the theme of the album the band was to play – THE WALL, the band members obscure in the big black backdrop, the orchestra for the sound effects and the ensemble, the stunned crowd.. should make up for a great evening, she thought.. As the concert began, Roger started with his famous words with the most electrifying pyrotechnics that any 4th of July Celebrations would fall short of.. “We don’t need no education We don’t need no thought control”, Faces and numbers began scrolling on the wall from projection equipment in the middle of the arena.. When they showed the date of release of the album, she momentarily thought of her Matt, who was born on the same date 31 years ago. In her long life, Pat had seen it all, love, loss, belonging, depression.. But tonight was special, she realized, it will all be soon over, and she was with the two most special people in her life.. Chad and Romeo.. And she decided to make the most of it!

To the Teacher we say: We don’t need no education

A little later into the concert, the 10 minute break was a much-needed one.. As she assisted Chad to the front of the line in the men’s toilet station, someone screamed from behind.. “Do you think his pee is a pressing issue than mine.. and just because he is a blind, it doesn’t make it any special..!!” “Karma, would come and bite you in the back, you asshole.”, she muttered under her breath, because she had to know what she was getting into when they ventured into a Rock concert. At the corner, blocking the way, a couple with tattoos and ear and lip piercing were kissing each other.. “How on earth would that be convenient? Ugh.” Again, she went about her business of escorting Chad to the family restroom..

In the order of priority: Booze, Hookers, Food, Shelter

Getting back and finding their way to the seats proved tough. The crowd was hardly in its seats, because the music was such! “Will some woman in this desert land Make me feel like a real man?” And, there she was standing.. her heart thumping to the heavy metal beats of ‘Young Lust’.. She thought every famous man in history should start like this, preach love and lust to the masses, then spill words of peace and brotherhood in their ripe years.. That should work, and the concept might be universal.. To get popular, take a path, a more populist path, then when people are arrested and willing to hear you, tell them what you exactly intended to! That is why Roger Waters was a Hero to her.. The rickety makeshift stairs with extra chairs, were quaking with rhythmic effects and that was sending shocks up her body through her spine.. At 49, she was having an orgasm in the middle of 15000 spectators, while Romeo was licking her feet and she was rubbing shoulders with a dozen strangers, while swaying and clapping to the music.. She was a little embarrassed to go through such emotions.. The energy was palpable, the crowd was young, the enthusiasm was wild and the sound effects gave goose bumps.. Roger bent down as if in a head bow, like a Namaste, and sang the most real song of them all.. “Bring The Boys Back Home”.. “Don’t leave the children on their own, no, no. Bring the boys back home.” And then it happened, as the concert came to a close..The ‘helicopter’ lights whirring above and the light shining on her head.. The crowd went crazy and before she could dismiss the attention, Pat saw the picture on THE WALL.. It read the words, that she would remember forever..

Sgt. Maj. Matthew Patterson: We salute, an US National Hero, a man of bravery and extraordinary achievements.

Sgt. Maj.
Bring The Boys Back Home

Fort Carson’s 9th Brigade Combat Team Born: Nov 30th, 1979 Killed in combat with enemy forces: Oct 3rd, 2009 Camp Keating, Kamdesh, Afghanistan.


His dying words, as his ammunition was out run and the only communication to the outside world was a satellite phone.. ‘I’m telling you that if they don’t get here f****** soon, we’re all going to f****** die’, he shouted, under heavy sounds of gunfire.


Pat realized the crowd was cheering for Matt and so she thrived in the honor and hugged Chad with tears of joy and overwhelming sorrow..!! That night she found out that Alyssa had sent in her brother’s details to The Wall tour campaign to be honored in a dedication segment, called “Fallen Loved Ones”. And for that she was grateful that Alyssa cut her conversation short earlier in the evening. The surprise was truly worth the experience.. And for that she was honored and proud of the son .. and the daughter..


Dedication: To each and every service man – past, present and future – in any part of the world, and to family and friends of them, who pray for their safe return every day.. With love and gratitude for their sacrifices..


A few of my beloved readers have asked me time and again to help them draw a line, pointing the difference between fact and fiction in my stories.

Pat: Inspired by my husband’s love for PinkFloyd;

Chad and Romeo: Inspired by two real life characters in my life;

Roger Waters and The Wall: As a first time attendee to his concert in 2010, fueled and inspired the story.

Camp Keating in Kamdesh, Afghanistan: Real life tragic incident involving US Military Personnel.


Image Courtesy: When not specified or linked back: The photos have been blurred to protect and respect privacy.

* * *


Add yours →

  1. A touching subject, Rachana. And you took us into some very special lives, here. A “walk a mile in my shoes” type of story. I am sorry that the human race still finds it neccessary to go to war and kill one another. Our service men and women often give SOOO MUCH.

    • Leslie, thanks for writing.. How does one live with the fact that there is a possibility that they may not see their loved one ever again.. And how brave is the soldier who goes to war in the first place.. ?? It is awe inspiring, really!! I write to send a note to tell them that I am grateful, and I am glad you are walking with me.

  2. As a veteran, and as someone raised in a military family, thank you for this wonderful post. Fact/fiction does not matter. The heart in your message was unbelievable! Great Job!

    • Mark, I did not know this about you funny guy! If you feel honored and loved, that is what the intent of the post was, and I am grateful that you felt that way, thanks for all the inspiring words and your service..!

  3. ‘His boy had survived 110 degrees of heat and humidity for 10 days in the camp with ONLY a dozen bottles of drinking water between 22 soldiers…’

    Shocking. Imagine achieving that feat then dying anyway. Anyway, at least more than 50% of ‘our’ boys are now back home -something to be grateful for.

    • It is good to know about Philippines, Pocholo.. What is the need to go even keep the rest of the 50% away in the purpose of war anyway..? Our youth are capable of so many things and I wish someone thought of channelizing their resources in other non-destructive ways!

  4. What a tremendously full story, Rachana. It brought out so much: compassion, curiosity, impatience, love, disgust, sensuality, anger…wow.

    We sure do want all our boys and girls back home. After so many centuries of warring, how’s it working for us?

    Is this part of Shafali’s challenge? Hope so.

    • A poignant and engagingly written story, not factual but true. Well done. Compassionately done. You have THE touch. I also loved the subplot of the family relationship. Sweet and touching.

      You are a blessing in the blogospher. Thanks for a fab read. Have to go get my tissues now.

      • Jamie, thank you!! And please tell me if you would like to see any part of the story telling differently.. I want to write better, that is a lifetime goal.. Of course, and to make my mother (a writer) proud too ;)
        Sorry for the sorrow, it comes with the territory, but that is not telling you something you don’t already know!
        Thank you for reading it and the review!

    • Amy, thanks for the kind words, it feels special when it comes from you because you can think of so many twists and turns when you write your own fiction.. And you engage us greatly!
      As for the war, same old, same old.. I don’t see any war in history that has done any good.. I am exasperated to try to figure out who does?? I am not familiar with Shafali’s challenge, will have to see what that is all about.. :)
      Thanks for stopping by! Hope you have a great week!

  5. As always, a very strong post!

  6. Thank you for sharing Matthew Patterson’s story through this inspirational post.

    • Thank you Slam, this is the story of every Matthew.. I am grateful that you found it motivational, even if there was no mention of it subtly, this was to include thanks and gratitude to your service too.. !
      Thanks and don’t bother that little girl of yours too much :)

  7. I mentioned to you I had to re-read the story again before offering my 2 cents and I think I can now do that … at least one of the cents ;-)

    There is something that really pushed me with this story and now I think I know … last Saturday, I was watching TEDxVancouver through live stream and following the conversation on Twitter … someone send this message trying to express his emotions about TED ( for those not familiar): “TED is like taking a pill that detonates inspiration in your mind!”

    Well, your post detonates emotions … at least in my mind! … when I got to “Pat saw the picture on THE WALL” I felt breathless the first time and though I knew what was coming, I felt the same the second time!

    Now I think I know why I am eager to read your posts ;-) … I like when a story hits me unprepared and causes a little meltdown … it is a power that can be used to inspire, re-think, move to action…

    Someone said to me this morning on Twitter:
    “I think we’re part of the Hero Generation….. So we’re destined for great things. At least on paper.”

    So you’re the hero with the proverbial paper Rachana! I am really happy that you use your writing skills … and powers! ;-) … to bring attention to the big problems of this world!

    As for my self, my reply to my newly discovered Twitter pal was “not sure if we’re Hero generation-I hope the one after us is! I’d b happy 2 b the Why generation & ask ?s even on paper”


    • Since the first time I read your comment, I have read it multiple times too.. and I tell you that it has had the same effect. When Jamie recently mentioned to me, that I should write because a writer can also be a hero, I started believing and believing in my work.. Thank you for taking that thought forward. I appreciate your feedback always!
      On a lighter note, the word “proverbial paper” is driving me nuts, in my life, in my generation, the paper has gone from a real one to a proverbial one.. ! So true!! If I steal this word anytime, don’t scream plagiarism.. :)

      • I just thought to drop you a comment and check if life is keeping you too busy from writing or like me you need to start on vitamin D to go through the winter? — at least that is how I read the snow effect on your blog ;-)

        You see, I depend on reading a new post from you every week ;-)

        Seriously, I hope all is good on your side and you still have the same passion and energy to continue with the hero efforts!

        • Thanks for cheering me up Kima! Those are some awesome words to hear when all you need to do is stay warm! Thanks for that encouragement, it is definitely acting as a cure for a depressing and nail biting case of “The writer’s block”..!! I have a deadline at work on the 18th, so the combination has proven to be deadly for my writer’s mind, I will publish something tonight or early tomorrow, it is again something I have not written about before.. So, only time and reactions will tell me how it has been received.. :)
          Thanks for being there!!
          And I thought our joint motto was to “Eat more Nutella!” .. ;)

          • Ha, you’ve got me … I thought to cover my case of ‘writer’s block’ with the story about vitamin D as Nutella would’ve been way too transparent ;-)

            Btw, you just gave me an idea … Winter Nutella! (with vitamin D, Omega 3 and whatnot) … a Writer’s Nutella would be great too with some caffeine inside and an inspiring quote from a famous writer coping with their depression under the cap ;-)

            Good luck at work! … I will be looking forward to your next post … stay warm in the meantime ;-)

  8. A lovely heart-touching story. I think I am going to be visiting your blog often…right now – going off to read some more.
    – Shafali

    • Thanks for visiting Shafali, I am so glad I found you and explored after Amy’s recommendation! I am grateful this piece touched your heart, appreciate your readership! Thanks, I will be eagerly waiting for your next caricature, which is bound to make me smile big!!
      Have a great weekend!

  9. Beautifully written, as always – very touching. I wish every family that has lost a loved one in combat could have them remembered in such a thoughtful and public way.


    • Thanks Teri, it is nice to see you and get your feedback.. Hope the break did you some good :) Nothing feels enough when it comes to telling a soldier what his service means to us! Thanks for reading and being there..

  10. theextinctexistentialist December 4, 2010 — 10:38 am

    I like what someone said above, not factual but true. I think that is the point of great fiction writing. The facts may be born of imagination but the truth they create is very real.

    • Thanks EE, you are always encouraging me that way, and I appreciate your review! It was a great coincidence when I read that you mentioned Pink Floyd in your book review article – The concert was a thrilling experience, at least in recent memory :)

  11. Exquisitely done, Rachana. Your writing lives and breathes :-)

    • Naomi, Thanks for getting back in touch! I am glad to hear how you feel about the essay..
      I do not have to tell you because you must have figured already, but I am always eager to see what you are up to and what pictures you have for us to see.. !!
      Thanks, have a great week ahead!

  12. Beautiful story, Rachana. You remind us NOT TO FEEL SORRY FOR OURSELVES (that means me) when others have to endure such hardships, especially our heroes in the military.It’s also an inspiration to see some fiction in the blogosphere. Admittedly, I don’t get out much in those realms, but, well done!!

    • Thank you Kalindi, yes, you are right, that is admittedly my only consistent theme on my blog: “Any given day, I am better off than those who have bigger problems in life – when just getting by each living day becomes a challenge!”
      Thank you for the feedback, you write with so much clarity, so it is a pleasure to hear that you enjoyed this piece! So, also, it is great to see you here on my site! Thanks for visiting! And have a great day!

  13. What I Will
    by Suheir Hammad

    I will not
    dance to your war
    drum. I will
    not lend my soul nor
    my bones to your war
    drum. I will
    not dance to your
    beating. I know that beat.
    It is lifeless. I know
    intimately that skin
    you are hitting. It
    was alive once
    hunted stolen
    stretched. I will
    not dance to your drummed
    up war. I will not pop
    spin beak for you. I
    will not hate for you or
    even hate you. I will
    not kill for you. Especially
    I will not die
    for you. I will not mourn
    the dead with murder nor
    suicide. I will not side
    with you nor dance to bombs
    because everyone else is
    dancing. Everyone can be
    wrong. Life is a right not
    collateral or casual. I
    will not forget where
    I come from. I
    will craft my own drum. Gather my beloved
    near and our chanting
    will be dancing. Our
    humming will be drumming. I
    will not be played. I
    will not lend my name
    nor my rhythm to your
    beat. I will dance
    and resist and dance and
    persist and dance. This heartbeat is louder than
    death. Your war drum ain’t
    louder than this breath.

    • “….I
      will not hate for you or
      even hate you. I will
      not kill for you. Especially
      I will not die
      for you….”.. But how you prevent from young illiterate children from getting brainwashed with the ideologies of fanatic few?! Thanks for the great poem and the introduction Kima.. So much can be conveyed in so little space and letters.. !! It is amazing.. And thanks for thinking of posting it for me..

      • “But how you prevent from young illiterate children from getting brainwashed with the ideologies of fanatic few?!”

        I think this song carries at least part of the answer!

        • I can’t believe that you forwarded me this inspiring song about Aung San Suu Kyi! I have been recently studying about her and her release from jail by the Burmese government – for some research work I was doing.. And in many ways, she reminds me of India’s Mahatma Gandhi for his non-violent struggle to make India free..
          Thanks Kima, thanks to some great leaders, the world is not erupting into a big ball of flame with all the violence!!

  14. I love that you took the time out to remember our men and women fighting the battle out there. You are such an inspirational writer… I love stopping by :)

    • Thanks Lisa for reading, thank you for your encouraging words, I try, the soldiers, both men and women, their lives – their sacrifices, just too big to ignore..
      I am also trying to write positive happy lovey-dovey stuff too, because a few of my writes have had a gut wrenching effect on me, and I worry if my readers will be broken down too.. I promise I am going to mix and match as much as possible in 2011.. :)
      Hope you are doing super!!

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