Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Short Story : Blue Skies and Hot Chocolate Milk

Qtchi was more than an ally to me. May be he was my brother, I don’t know. The knife, that whooshed about an inch away from my ear, hit little Qtchi on his right eye. He screamed in pain. I wish they used bullets. I have heard bullets kill faster. He held my hand strongly, squeezing it. It was hard to see Qtchi twist and twirl on that slope of the mountain. Warm blood dripped from him eyes on my hand. He was the fifth from our troop getting hit today. Like most of the eight year old men in my troop, Qtchi did not die of the wound. So we had to leave him behind. I had his blood on my hands. The trek ahead was steep and the other gang could easily target us on the laid trail. I was leading my team. I looked down; behind the bushes I could see and count seventeen of them. My allies may be brothers, I don’t know. I thought of seventeen as a strange fearful number. Most of us would be dead by the time we are seventeen. Most of us surviving were in prime of our age, almost all were eight to ten years old. And we hoped of seeing the clear blue sky before our time came. The people up there, fighting us, am sure are also dreaming the same. But the mountains cannot feed us all. So we need to decide who lives.

The sky was burning red, as the sun was setting somewhere far away. Moons were never seen on these mountains; there always was a thick layer of smoke. During the day, sky changed colors from grey to burning red, but nights were black; always. And before the night came we had to get past the post to reach the plateau,right near the middle of the mountain. They say, there is no smoke at the top of the mountain. Mornings are blue and nights are white by moon. They even talk of little twinkles of the stars, as if hundreds of new born babies are smiling at you from the sky. I wish I have a daughter, just like Dzti. She was the strongest of our group, before she caught fever.

We had to move on. I decided I will lead the troop through the rocks. At that time of the day, rocks cool down. All of us, dressed in nothing but belts, with knives hanging on our backs, had learned climbing over rocks. We were the children of mountains. Before it turned dark, we were rising on the other side of the post. Just a little push and all of us could catch the gang of those men, unaware. They were just four. I think your strength multiplies as you move up the mountain. All of us caught them unaware. It was four people to one. I knew the one who had hit Qtchi. I jumped over him. He would have been a year younger than I. His hairs smelled of death. He took out his knife and hit me on my hands. My blood was running over Qtchi’s. I ducked his blow and took him up by my shoulders. As soon as he went down, I found a big rock, and before he knew, his head was meshed into a pulp; For the pride of the troop; for the pride of the tribe.

They were soon cleared. We found a bag of leaves and some dried fruits infested with a few little worms. We were happy for getting the dinner. Eating our own brother’s never felt good.

And then the night fell. No one fights in the nights. That is the rule of the mountain. We had no one to fight today, but the top of the mountain was far off. For today, we had little but delicious meal and there was a hope of seeing the grey sky of the morning tomorrow, and the blue hopefully someday. We slept in the rock shelters; tired and worn out, covering our wounds with the soil.

That day, like all good dreams, a dream followed the hard day’s work. I was asleep. Deep asleep I think when I saw the orange sky of the morning turn blue. The cool air of land was blowing through the balcony. I took a deep breath to take in the fresh green smell of the morning. I was thirty two in my dreams; An age we would never see. I saw a grown-up Dzti coming from the room inside, joining me in the balcony. And with her was a man of my age, or was he me? He looked just like me. Grown up Dzti was shouting at me for not getting ready in time. She mentioned we will miss our bus to office, if I don’t go to the bathroom now. Offices and bathrooms are the stuff of folklore. I remember my parents bathed me once near that thin stream of river. The water was slush there. But like all good dreams, the shower was warm and the glass of chocolate milk was hot. I wish the dreams last longer than life.


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