1993-94: Homeback Confidential
Not much sex in the first part of this story. Much more feelings than fuckings, as this is an account of my return home after Operation "Restore Hope" in Somalia. It was the moment in which I experienced the strongest feelings ever, the real turning point in my life. The story starts in October 1993 in the burning desert of central Somalia, and ends after New Years Eve in the cold and wet Dutch winter.
We were close to the end of our turn of Mission.
76th Mech Regiment came to relief us in the North, and we left Belet Weyne in the end of October.
WHA had left just a week before us, probably after confirming the information that ENI gave up with the prospections... Just as Total and Aral did a month earlier.
In Balad, Legnano Brigade took over Folgore Brigade responsibilities, and our term of duty in Africa was close to end. We withdrew our forces in our larger camp in Bulo Burti, where our logistic assets were, and handed over the troublesome Northern Sector to our cousins of the 76th, getting ready for home. Voice was that our replacements were going to be the last in UNOSOM.
I agreed. There was no point to be there and risking our boys for people who couldn't care less for peace, Democracy or even for their own children's life. They weren't starving anymore, so our main humanitarian task was accomplished; as for our economic interests were concerned, it was pretty clear that there was no interest in staying, so it was due time to make it for home...
We made a last attempt at helping while in Bulo Burti. The Hawadle tribe, the one that represents the majority in our region, were bordering to their South with the Abgal, another tribe that was dominant down to the coast including our sector of Mogadishu. Along their border lay a small canal, which took the river water inland for a few kilometres and was called "Chinese" since it had been dig by them during the previous regime.
Well, the two tribes were clashing nightly to control it. Hundreds of people died since we came in the area, to no avail.
We called a conference, and offered them a solution: we were to dig a second canal in the opposite side of the river, so each tribe could have its own one and cultivate along its banks.
The Somalis looked at us like if we were stupid.
It didn't work like that, they finally explained to us: it wasn't a matter of simple ownership of the canal, which was irrelevant to them as such. The canal was just a prize to fight for, and eventually win. Fighting was for men, cultivating was for women, and the second didn't matter to them...
"We will dig the canal anyway," our Colonel said, "And then we will see."
"Okay," the two chiefs said, satisfied: "And we will fight for it too."
At that point, we just kicked them out of our camp.
I visited Gialalaxi small hospital.
There was an Italian civilian missionary there, working alone. She was a professional nurse who spent all her life in Africa, mostly in Senegal. She was disgusted.
"You see that old woman sitting next to the bed where the girl is lying down the ward?"
"Yes, I see." I said, "Is she her grandmother?"
"Nope. She's her mother, but it doesn't matter. Do you know why she's sitting there?"
"I suppose she's caring for her child."
"Nay. She's waiting for me to look away, so that she can steal the food in her tray."
"What! She will steal the food to her own ill child?"
"That's right. She says the child has to die anyway, so she should get the food instead, since she does gonna live."
The older woman looked at me: "No, that's just Somalia. There is much worse. Have you ever seen how girls get infibulated at birth? Almost one third of them die of it... And all the others will bear the pain for the rest of their life."
Infibulation... Female castration. We knew about it. It was the second reason, after the stench, why during the whole tour only two soldiers of our Regiment went with local girls. They reported their comrades the worst sexual experience of their whole life. The poor girls were not simply dirty and smelling beyond tolerance: they were like dead corpses during coupling, since they were simply not feeling anything, and nobody could ever teach them how to fake...
But you can't ever criticize that tradition, since it was a religious local belief and you should never criticize religion... It's not politically correct.
We weren't the only ones that were departing.
Suddenly, there were lots of US convoys moving along the Imperial Road, reducing the UN stockpiles in Belet Weyne German camp. These convoys were usually spending the night at our camp, so we saw scores of their giant trailers, carrying hundreds of German containers up and down from Moga.
One day, one of those columns that stopped in was commanded by a female colleague.
In her case "Female" was just a definition, since she clearly wasn't a male, but the poor lady is still the ugliest human being I saw since I was born. She was peer-shaped, so small and fat that it was faster to climb her over than pass round her, and all her skin was ruined by acne.
If women were all like her, I would be gay, and happy.
Still being the guy in charge of security, that night I took just another tour of the camp, inspecting the defences and the people on duty.
Everything was on order, but in the guards tent a man on rest shift was missing.
He might as well be at the toilet, but hell, I had nothing to do, so I went looking for him.
It took over half an hour to find him. I started getting worried, when I suddenly heard a moan coming from underneath one of the parked US trailers.
I went for the sound and suddenly enlightened between the wheels with my maglight.
And there my missing soldier lay, together with the American Captain.
He was taking her like a dog, and I can't blame him for the choice of the position, since that way he wasn't seeing her face...
Okay, I got my man. He was sound, safe and happy, and I was happy for him too... I switched the torch off and said: "Sorry guys; go on."
Then I went.
I heard a gasp, a groan, scruffy movements, and then somebody running after me.
I turned, and there the colleague was, running for me while desperately trying to pull her trousers up.
"Sir," she called in a raucous whisper, "Sir! Please..."
I was sorry for the anticlimax, it was the second time during my mission in Somalia I interrupted someone having fun. So I offered, "Don't worry, and get back at it. It doesn't matter..."
She was panicking: "Sir, please, do not report! I didn't intend to... I'll never..."
I turned again, trying to dismiss the case: "Don't worry, really. There is nothing wrong for me... We have no regulation about this, so go on and have fun..."
She grabbed by arm: "Sir, you don't understand! He's a private, I'm a Captain... I'd lost my ranks; they will court-marshal me..."
"No, they won't," I tried to reassure her, still trying to walk away, growing more and more embarrassed with her still clumsily trying to make herself presentable while still holding my arm: "You can screw whoever you like here, as long as you are off-duty, consenting adults and there is no danger for the camp. So go back to your friend, he must be so frustrated!"
She was almost crying, and I wonder weather she was understanding me: "Sir, please..."
"Leave me alone!" I ordered, now really pissed, getting rid of her grip: "I told you it's okay. Go away!"
She gave up. I walked away and she disappeared in the darkness.
The day after, during the morning parade for the flag rising, I reported the night news to the Colonel, and mentioned the sexy detail. The US column had left at first light heading south, and there was nothing wrong to smile a bit...
"Really?" he smiled, flabbergasted: "That Captain? But she was ugly!"
I smiled: "I know, sir. But still, it's six months now since..."
"Take the guy to me. I want to talk to him."
"Sir, I remind you our Regulation doesn't mention..."
"I know. I just want to ask him a question."
The young Bersagliere wasn't so happy when I took him to the Commander, but wasn't worried either. I suspect he didn't want his comrades discover he had been so desperate...
"Okay, child," the Colonel said in his tent: "Don't worry, no harm done. But you have to explain me: she was really bad. How could you?"
The soldier looked his commander as if he couldn't explain. Then he shrugged: "Sir, you stand right. She was revolting. But see it under my point of view: I did fuck a goddamned Captain!"
The Colonel and I burst into laughing.
Time to go home.
The 3rd Bersaglieri Regiment came to relief us, and I was placed in charge of the very first party on the way back to Europe. I suppose it was kind of a reward from the Colonel for my work, and also an acknowledgement of my family problems.
I had managed to re-establish contact with Karin and told her I would be back around the 15th of November. She jumped with joy back in Holland, and just told me she would be there.
And then, I lost contact with her again.
Why my life always has to be so complicated?
I drove my column south along the Imperial Road, dreaming of my girlfriend and thinking back of all what had happened since we came. I arrived as a rookie: however experienced in my own business, I had never been in operation before. Now, I was leaving as a veteran: I got my first fire and my first blood. I have seen the real thing. I met enemies. I killed enemies. I have seen death and challenged it.
I was changed forever, and knew it.
It was like a turning point. I left a boy; I was coming back a man. I felt like the preparation phase of my life was over, and I was ready to live and experience life under my own, firm control.
I felt ready to meet the World as never before.
As for Africa, I was glad to leave it forever...
If I only could imagine!
We settled in Moga airport camp, the same I arrived six months earlier as green as you can be.
We weren't green anymore. We were tanned, almost burned. I had lost all fat deposits, and my cheeks were gone forever... Something my mum would miss.
We had to stay a couple of days in that hell of a place, with absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go, in the goddamned transit area, with sand and wind and the noise of the helicopters, and soldiers from over thirty nations roaming around in an apparent total chaos... And I wonder how apparent.
Our flight was taken over by wounded; the 76th Regiment took casualties in Belet Weyne, including their own Commander. They went for the only target in town we hadn't been through, the one I had briefed about requiring at least a full coy to sweep... And they went there with a platoon.
Bad idea. Seven wounded boys, luckily none too serious. And about twenty Somali killed. I wondered how bad mutual relationships were now in the smelly town... Maybe, knowing how the Somalis think, they may well have been improved.
We got to board our C-130, both the casualties of the 76th and us. I sat close to the wounded Commander: he got a stone in the eye, badly, and his retina had fallen. He was bloody angry, and looking forward to come back and break a few heads in payback.
I couldn't blame him.
The flight was long, and this time I got no wine tetra packs to lie on: the plane was crowded. But I didn't care.
I was going home.
This time the stop over in Luxor went on unnoticed, and we finally landed in Pisa late in the afternoon... To realize in Europe it was winter.
Damn it was cold! We were acclimatized to the Equator, and still wearing tropical uniforms, our sleeves up and no jacket... But we didn't care.
We were going home.
A bus from my own Regiment picked us up. A bus!
God, I remembered the thing that surprised me the most was the traffic lights. They looked so strange!
We drove from Pisa to Milan, and then to the Regiment base, in Legnano, where we arrived around midnight.
It was unreal: we gave our weapons away. We lived with them for so long, I felt castrated handing over pistol and rifle. But no, I didn't care.
I lined up my soldiers, including my Intelligence aid, and they saluted. I saluted back.
We were at home.
I couldn't wait.
I made a call to the hotel next to the camp, where my parents were waiting, and had my dad waken up.
He run to pick me up by car... It was weird to see him. The old soldier had been a boy partisan during the last year of World War two, and then in the Army for the rest of his life, through all of the Cold War, without shooting a bulled. Then I joined the Army myself, and he was just the veteran looking down at me. Now, it was different: I was the veteran now, back home from war overseas.
We shook hands, and then we hug. I was embarrassed how dirty I was, still with my sweat- and sand- stained battledress uniform.
"Where is mum?" I asked.
"She's waiting for us at the hotel... Let's go."
"And... Do you know anything..."
"Karin is here," dad said: "She's in our same hotel."
We jumped in the car... I think I've never been happier in my life. I was back home from war. I was satisfied with myself. I got back my family. And the woman of my life was there, waiting for me!
There was something wrong, but I couldn't see what. How could something be wrong? I was home!
My mother was walking up and down in front of the Hotel entrance. I run to her, and I saw she was crying. I thought it was joy, and felt so happy...
We hug, and I kissed her.
She kissed me back, and then her first words were: "Oh my God, Roberto... Let go of her!"
My mother lost me forever that very moment.
"W-what do you mean?" I stumbled.
"Let go of Karin," she repeated, as clearly as she could. "Send her back where she comes from, and forget her!"
I couldn't believe it. Her son was back from war, sound and safe, happier than he has ever been in his whole life to meet back his parents and the girl he loves, and the very first thing his mum tells him is not, welcome home, but leave the girl you love!
I knew they never met before. I knew my folks couldn't speak English. I knew Karin was different...
But I could never think of this.
It was a nightmare.
"Mum, what the hell are you saying?"
My father came in: "We met her in her room this morning. She was drunk."
"And?" I could only say.
Fucking hell, of course the poor girl was drunk! She left all what she had to come to see me, all her world was behind her shoulders, and there she was, stuck in a hotel in a small town abroad, not ever knowing when her lover would show up... No money, nobody to talk to... Plus, she was Karin. Of course she was drunk!
But I couldn't say anything like that, and anyway they would never understand. It was too far away from their world and mentality, the pure idea of Karin loneliness, of her desperation, and of her wholehearted hope in me.
"Her bedroom was a mess, there was an empty bottle of spirit on the drawer, and she smelled of alcohol so bad..."
"Did you ever think of warning her you were going to her room?" I asked.
"How could we, she can't say a word!"
My God, it was a nightmare. I wanted to wake up.
"Get rid of her..." my mother sobbed again.
"Are you asking me to choose between you and her?" I asked, cooler than I had ever been.
They couldn't see it, I had changed so much. I felt so much different from when I left, and suddenly I realized that something had broken down, and would never be back as before. Damage was done, and since I had changed so much, I could not recover it. Suddenly, my parents didn't matter as much as they used to be anymore.
I felt betrayed. Taken aback in the moment that I thought of as the finest of my life.
They said nothing, so I spoke.
"Well, that's fine," I said: "I chose Karin. Goodbye."
I moved past my mother into the hotel, ignoring any further words from them.
I Heard: "Roberto..." but it was too late.
Too late forever.
I asked the reception where Ms Van Heineken was sleeping, and the receptionist asked me who I was.
I told him, and he smiled: "Oh, yes. Ms Van Heineken was waiting for you any time. Her room is 65, just beside yours, which is 64."
She was waiting for me...
I run upstairs.
Room 65. I knocked; nothing. I banged; nothing.
I could cry; the urge to see her was so strong. I rushed to my room, opened it, threw my backpack on the bad and grabbed the phone.
I called her room.
It rang. And rang.
Oh my God, possible that she was stoned? Oh my God...
Karin. Her sleepy voice... Her sweet voice.
"Karin, my love..."
"Roberto! Where are you?"
How many feelings in one time you can hear in somebody's voice? Excitement. Relief. Love.
"I'm here, my love. Just next room! I couldn't wake you up, so..."
"Oh God, I was sleeping so deep... Come!"
I run back to the corridor, and didn't manage to bang door 65 again, because she opened before I reached it.
No, she wasn't stoned at all, my poor love! She was there, more awake and more beautiful than ever... Only a tee shirt and knickers on, and her wonderful blue eyes so big and open!
I clashed into her so strongly that I worried to hurt her... And then I reminded how strong her ballerina body was, and we just rolled on the carpet floor holding each other, laughing and crying and kissing like young sweethearts...
And we were... Young at heart, and so much in love!
Have you ever been back at home from war? Only the ones of you who did can truly understand. People back from Vietnam, from the Falklands or from Iraq, who made it back to see their beloved ones... The ones who held their promised girl in their arms feeling all her relief and love after the long separation. The ones who can finally feel all the hope in an easier, happy future together.
Only you, comrades and friends, you who probably withstood much worse than I did, you can understand what I felt, finally holding my girl at my chest and kissing her breathless, feeling like the World a wonderful place is after all, and our home is the best place in the world... Because there is where our love is!
It was the best moment of my life, just as I had been foreseeing for so long, in the dark nights of Somalia.
I whish I had shared it with my parents, but I didn't. Still, it was like paradise on Heart; only it was just for the two of us.
Karin, my sweet fallen angel, so beautiful, so strong and weak at one time, and always so brave... Karin was in my arms, and never, never going to part again.
We kissed passionately, almost desperately.
We kissed for what seemed to me hours, like if we needed to compensate for the lost time. And we did need to compensate... After a while, my hands started to move along Karin's body, slipping down from her back to her bottom, grabbed her small, firm buttocks and squeezed them tight.
She was getting wild herself, shacking and moaning while playing with her tongue like she knew and grinding with her groin against mine like she was trying to fuck me through my fatigue.
I slid her panties on the side and slipped a finger in the crack between her buttocks, finding her blond, soft bush already moist.
"Hmmm..." she moaned in my mouth, "Oh my God, Yes! Yes, you're touching me, at last..."
I felt her hands working on my groin, trying to free my manhood from its camouflaged prison, and I lost any control. I pushed her away a second, and revered into her enlightened smile, her beautiful hair, her joyful eyes, and more down, her already hardened nipples trying to pierce her thin tee shirt.
Then everything happened in a blur. Karin jumped on me, pulling away my belt, unbuttoning my jacket, tearing open my trousers, and throwing everything away as soon as she managed to. I just filled my hands with all her gorgeous curves and ripped her panties in the urge of getting rid of them.