The walk of Freedom
Blood was oozing out of Limbu dai’s bullet wounds. The rag I had clumsily tied around a few, was not helping much either. He was suffering and I realized that he was going to die. Bleeding at that rate I’d be surprised if he lasted a minute more. This thought was very reassuring indeed and it gave me a sense of relief. But a tiny part of me still shifted uneasily each time he wheezed and coughed; cold appeared to have got his lungs. His eyes were shut, and I expected to hear him begging me to kill him soon, like two of his friends did just few hours back. He had shot them on the temple, without a second thought, because that’s where you shoot people you care for; he had told me. Blood stains mixed with mud all over his body and face, he was still a handsome sight. His personality exuded sheer power even in this condition as he rested his head held straight on the rock. I didn’t think I could shoot him though...the noise would have attracted the army's attention.
We were huddled up behind a huge rock that was almost at the edge of a very steep cliff, hiding from the army, who had attacked our camp. In a distance I could hear their heavy boots, scrambling in our search. “Any sign yet?” came a voice somewhere from the top. “No chief!” went the answer. And the sound of their footsteps went further and further away. I breathed. All I had to do was make a small sound, and they’d have known where we were, and I’d have been rescued like my other friends. It would have all ended, right here right now. But I feared it might be like jumping from a frying pan into the fire. Limbu dai told me of one boy who had gotten rescued, but after a month he was found stoned to death. He was trying to explain to me that I was better off with them, and nobody in the village would accept me; to them I'm already a Maoist.
I was only twelve when Limbu dai and his friends abducted me from my school. I remember I was in art class trying to copy Budha's statue. And ironically our teacher was roaming around observing and preaching; "We live in the land, where Budha was born. He was the symbol of peace and kindness. We therefore must always try to follow his path..." when they charged in with guns and took me and three other boys.
A silly boy I was for I had been excited riding behind that stinky truck with pigs and goats, that they had stolen from somewhere, wondering what adventures awaited me. After my real father died, I would have preferred anything but going home to my step-father and their 5 year old brat. My mother had also become mean towards me, after she married him.
When we reached the camp, it wasn’t long before I had to face the harsh reality. Limbu dai gave me a gun and told me I had to learn how to use it. I hated guns. It had killed my father. A group of Maoists had once barged inside our hut demanding food, and once they were full they had claimed our grains and chicken. When my father objected, they had shot him dead. In the Maoist camp I was kept in a room without food or water until I gave up. I was given a rifle with fake bullets to target practice, then I moved on to a real guns and homemade hand grenades.
The coughing stopped, and then the wheezing. I slowly took my shaky finger under his nose to check if he was still breathing. I almost fell off the cliff when he suddenly opened his eyes, and saved me by grabbing my hand.
He smirked “Don‘t worry…I won‘t take much longer now…but you‘re not free! I can see a rebellion in you…” and he closed his eyes.; his head slowly dropped to the side.
My relief was mixed with anxiety, when I gingerly got up and started walking towards my freedom. My legs felt numb from lack of blood circulation when I limped on, and his last words kept disturbing my peace.
But the further I went from his body the better I felt. A smile must’ve appeared on my face as I did feel like it…after a long time.
“Oy Harke!” a voice from the bush called my name, then his face peeped out. “this way!” he beckoned me to follow. He was Ramu, who worked with Limbu dai. He was supposed to be our next commander. I walked towards him, realizing that my freedom was slipping away from my grip. I followed him and once we were inside the forest, I shot him. He fell on the ground kicking, I went closer and shot him again on his temple. Limbu Dai was right I was not free. I had become a rebellion at heart.