My dear Jo,

The world is still turning, after yesterday’s assault – it snows with rare, small, icy flakes, and it is cold. It helps to look up, at the gray clouds and the columns of thick smoke, waving in the wind like the sails of a ship.

Only five of us survived. We ran scattered and now we’re camped around a small fire. The assault failed, but the enemy was bled so hard that they are barely regrouping, let alone able to launch a counter attack.

But it was grand.

I was there when Darius zeroed in the nuclear strike on Saynshand. I was watching him through my scope, as he prepared the laser pointer, I saw him run from the explosion and I saw him thrown to the ground by the first wave. I was the one who picked him up and dragged him through the intense heat, to the red cross tent, and I couldn’t help but watch that incredibly powerful phenomenon, over my shoulder.

I told you all that, because yesterday, the same thing happened – one can say a million times how wrong, cruel, damned, immoral, or infamous war is: the truth is that the sight and feeling of war are simply miraculous, worth everything. I was just standing breathless, as the storm was raging by me. My ears were bleeding of the waves of shattering blasts, my left arm was still sore and bandaged, and there were fires popping all over and shrapnels and stray bullets, and the sky was lit up with burning aircraft, like two infinite swarms of locusts battling above the Armageddon field. And the field itself, as wide as Moscow, stretching to the edge of the horizon, at that particular stage of battle where no human mind can encompass the war in a strategy, when pockets form on the battle line – and that line itself is no longer a line, but a diffuse zone with countless small engagements intertwined.

I was hidden in the Zyemhlinskaya tower, on the 8th floor, amid rubble and torn walls – from there, I shot down three field captains and a brigade general. Then I took one last glance at the marvel of mankind’s hate and greatness and then I ran to the lower floor and rappelled to the ground, just before the upper floors were napalmed by bombers.

As orders came to retreat, I called the captain and he didn’t answer – then I saw „Tzarina” Lenya, our machine gunner sgt. limping in desperation, with a torn leg – I bandaged her wounds as well as I could and dragged her away from the path of the battle tide. We met at call sign „Markov” safe house and continued to run.

While I was running, I thought of you. We did good, even if we lost. I thought – Jo is safe for now and I am still alive to fight another day, for her. And that’s all that matters. And perhaps you will find it disturbing and sinful that you have become the cause that drives me through this mayhem, but one needs a cause, even for killing – why should that not be the same as the cause I live for?

My beautiful Jo, this war will be over and I will be scarred and you will be sad and wild; and much of what was will be gone, even as memory – we both will have traded the beautiful past for something else, to survive, nothing more. But there will be love, still, as the hard, enduring seed of a flower that, in its gentleness, is vulnerable to the charring bomb shells. When the fires quell, the seed opens and sprouts new roots and new blooming petals. My Jo – I will never stop loving you.

I looked at the frozen battlefield this morning, just as the sun was rising. It is a sight to make every soul shiver, every mortal mind tremble. There’s not much left of Moscow, but I don’t think there ever was a greater moment in its existence. I’ll hold this image in my mind and I’ll oppose it to Mother Theresa’s words: „In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.„. I’ll try to live by this, one small letter, one word, one memory at a time.

I love you, Jo.

Ivan Luluben
Posted January 25th
To Joconde Abraham