We were playing war games

I have a friend from a place that used to be part of Yugoslavia. He lives alone in a large house. His house has become the weekend party venue. He is a nice host, kind to a fault, always welcoming the people. I once told him that people are taking advantage of his generosity, leaving him to clean the house after the party. He should at least get the people to clean up before leaving. He smiled and talked about surviving the war in the 1990s, of hiding and hoping to survive the nights of terror. Seeing all those people happy, drunk, flirting, laughing reminds him of kids around him who never made it out alive to enjoy these. When I was a kid (though some may argue that I still am), there used to be this empty plot at the corner of my block. Some legal trouble had caused the construction work to stop halfway. They could only finish digging the foundation. The site was full of dunes and trenches, giving it a battlefield look. Every evening after school, we ran to that site to play “war”. To make the “war” more realistic, we would make two teams — representing two countries that were fighting then current wars, or had fought wars in the past. It was hard to get the other kids to play the part of the losing or the evil country. But I would love to play these as dying in our wars involved lots of drama. I would hail ”Argentina”, and attack hated Britain (Falklands War). Our grenades were dried sand cakes that we found in the dunes. It would disintegrate when it hit the enemy, filling their uniform with sand. Sometimes, I would play China. Shouting “hail chairman Mao” I would jump on the evil Americans (Korean War). One good thing about playing war was that we would spend time with newspapers and magazines to learn the details of these conflicts. In the end, the enemy soldiers would surround me. They would ask me to surrender. I would refuse and call them names. A hail of grenades would mortally wound me, and I would tumble down the dune, rolling all the way. I enjoyed the rolling down part. After hitting the ground, I would hail my country or my leader one more time before valiantly dying. We would play the other wars too: - the Iran-Iraq War or the Vietnam War. After that, I would walk home with trepidation hoping that no one discovers my sand-filled uniform and shoes. That was our war. It was fun, especially the rolling down part. Actual wars are a mess.