Smoke or cloud, or BOTH
Smoke or cloud, or BOTH5 mins 142 5 mins 142
“They are coming, they are coming..” my mother shrieked, her body shaking. She held me by my hand and dragged me inside the house.
“Is there any point hiding in the house…” my father said. He was sharpening a sword sitting in the courtyard.
“Even a lame guy can push open the bolted house and get in” he went on further nonchalantly.
My mother took the end of her sari, wiped the beads of sweat forming on her face and covered her mouth. Her eyes bore the expression of fear and anxiety.
“What shall we do, shall we stand in front of the house and let them kill us” she spoke, her voice still shivering. She held my hand strongly and I could see tears rolling down her cheeks.
“No, we should fight for our lives, kill them, we have no other option” father said, now standing and looking faraway. His voice was determined, his eyes reflected anger. But he wasn’t afraid.
I must have been around twelve when our area was reeling under a civil war; people from adjourning villages ram shackled houses, killed people, raped women. Affected villagers came together and attacked in retaliation to avenge the killing. Everyone lived under fear, news of someone getting killed, villages being attacked and village houses being ravaged- travelled through some one or the other.
Farmers dropped their sickles and picked up swords. Many fled their villages to unknown places but there were still may left behind, leaving their house, cattle and fields isn’t that easy a decision.
“Better die protecting our homes then begging in the city streets” the old priest had announced.
“We still have time, let us run away, if there is life we can built our lives” my mother sobbed and pleaded.
“Never, I will never do that; I will rather die than flee. But I will not let them touch my family that easily” he fumed.
The other village men started assembling with their weapons, the all stood on the path leading to our village, not far away. The row of thatched houses stood near to each other, lush green fields behind, and each house had fence made of bushes. The mud houses had been standing for years, which I saw since I could remember.
“What if they came from behind, taking advantage of the dark fields” I asked my mother.
“Shh..sh..” she silenced me as if my thoughts may come true.
The other village women hurdled together with their children, few of the toddlers ran around merrily with no clue of what lay ahead. Wailing children were urgently being comforted by their mothers. I along with my friends of my age stood together, peeping through the trees.
“There, you see, a fire” Ramu whispered.
There was indeed fire; some house must have been burning. That was far away, maybe another village or far end of our village. The still night brought faint noise of wailing, shrieking and shouting. There were no lights, all lamps were blown off or maybe there were never lit. No one spoke except for the occasional wailing of children. The faint moon light was all that we followed to move around our colony.
“There, there, they are coming…” pointed someone. Flaming torches could be seen marching.
“I don’t think they will come here, they turned to another village yesterday” whispered another friend.
We were more excited than fearful.
“I have my sling ready and my pocket is full of sharp stones, I’m going to hit them in their eyes” announced Ramu in a hushed tone.
I had not told anyone but during the last few days I had also been collecting stones and storing them in a jute bag. I also knew that all the women had sickles with them. I had never known that when it comes to situation like this, almost everyone makes some preparation to flight back. Even the old woman had been muttering during the evening that “I will kill at least one of those bastards, here, see, I have a knife with me”.
There was a deafening noise. What followed next was the cry from the village men; the noise pierced through the silence of the night and filled the sky with the shrill cry of our men. They had guns and they were shooting randomly from a distance. Our men were getting killed. The flaming torches can nearer and nearer. The fight had started, people were butchering each other. The women howled, children wailed and people ran helter shelter, there was absolute chaos. One of the flaming torches fell on the thatched roof and soon the entire area got lighted with the burning of the hay.
I saw with horror that people lay everywhere, a pool of blood flowed in the narrow path. I hid behind a tree; I had no clue as to what happened to my family. My friends were not to be seen, I don’t know whether Ramu could hit in their eyes with his sling.
The atmosphere was filled with the cries, victory cry of the attackers and moaning of the injured. They were now retreating, but as a final blow they threw something. It came and fell near me, it was a live bomb. I had never seen a bomb in my life but I could make out that it would blast any moment and turn the entire area in a rumble.
It was crudely made bomb, I had heard people talk about such explosives. In a flash of time I leaped towards it and picked it. I put my entire might and hurled it towards the gang which had now turned towards me. I had shouted with my whole might. The bomb landed far away towards them and then a blinding flash filled the atmosphere. I sprinted towards the fields, the explosion shook the ground below me and I stumbled in the paddy field, in the mud.
I ran the entire night. It was in the morning that I got to learn from local people that 20 houses were gutted; all the people of the village were killed. However, in a freak accident one bomb exploded and killed over 50 attackers. I looked at my hands- smeared black and looked above, in the sky. The sky was filled with dark, angry clouds. Somewhere far behind, I could see smoke rising and touching the sky.