I don’t remember many other names now, but I was numb from fatigue. So were Foong, Selvam and Ho Yeo as we lay on the top of our Armoured Personnel Carrier.
Foong asked why.
I said I didn’t know. Ask the stars. A lot of them tonight.
I must have been numb from fatigue, because I didn’t feel much else while lying on the top of the APC.
Foong asked again, what happened?
Not sure. APC overturned. Bravo Company. Someone died.
Why must people die like that? Foong asked the stars again.
I thought of many things then. How the accident happened. How unlucky it was for Bravo Company to be switched to point (leading) company instead of Alpha. How dark it was at 8pm when the command for Order of Movement was given. How it had rained the two days before, making the dirt tracks all but muddy slosh pits. How we had always made fun of Bravo’s incompetence. How I had spent the previous two days riding my recce bike behind and between the tanks and armoured carriers. How I had been tasked to mark out directions at track junctions. How I had seen the false track leading up a steep embankment. How I had judged that that false track would be obvious to all. How I realised I had made the assumption that it would be Alpha Company on point. How I realised that if another company had been on point, they might not have deemed the false track so obvious. How I realised what might happen when the Order of Movement was given. How I did not actually see the accident. How I realised exactly what had happened when the radio call came in to inform Battalion HQ personnel to collect the deceased’s personal effects from Bravo Company.
I thought of it all, but I couldn’t tell Foong or the rest why and how. Maybe I was just numb from fatigue. And it was late, and kind of peaceful under the Kanchanaburi sky. It had stopped raining and there sure were a lot of stars that night.
Then we fell asleep, and it must have been a good uninterrupted sleep, because we woke up only when the morning sun shone on our faces and threatened to bake us on the metal deck.