“This is my story; from the time when I was conscripted as a schoolboy into the army at age seventeen.” This story is fact and not fiction. It is not a historical account written in the first person, it is written as a novel giving insight into the small talk, the joys and the challenges of army life, culminating in the horror of war; what many conscripted young men of our generation faced at the time.The language is brutal and foul at times but it is within context. The story happens in 1975 starting with call-up, through basics and parabat training and culminating in Operation Savannah, a CIA backed operation into Angola which lasted for almost a year – the largest deployment of South African troops since the Second World War- where our soldiers fought Cuban forces sponsored by mother Russia.
It speaks of Kevin’s journey from boyhood to manhood, accelerated by the furnace of war; surviving two deadly ambushes, facing rocketed and shells; how he slips into a deep and black depression; somehow clawing his way back to mental stability. It speaks of betrayal by the apartheid government and how ”en messe”, hundreds of men mocked and swore at the then minister of defence PW Botha. At the end it touches on how Kevin has to cope with PTSD; how he partially heals himself while living as a beachcomber for three months, until he feels he can cope with life and living with others.
…Kevin lay there, using his tongue to clear the mud out of his mouth, shovelling it out with his tongue. It wasn’t a bad taste; it tasted like the earth should, like the taste of dirt eaten when he was a kid. He spat and spat again. He could hear others spitting as well; muddy fucking mouths everywhere, he thought. He realized then that he was rambling in his head; words and thoughts bouncing about in his head like a ping-pong ball as he spat the mud out of his mouth; his tongue curling about in his mouth, shovelling out the mud. He tasted blood. He might have bitten his tongue. He spat the pink mud out of his mouth and then began to retch, dry heaving, wanting to vomit but it wouldn’t come.
Pink fucking mud! …