Factionless. A Story Of A Child Soldier.
Pratham Gupta, Grade 12
“The light must rest, only to be replaced by something much, worse.”
Us boys played by the river when we were young. Standing in the shoal waiting for its tongue to swallow us. The coarse sand like my father’s face hugging the bottom of my feet. The echo of our innocent, illusory laughs like a seashell against my ear, suffocating the sound of the bullets in the distance. We played for hours on end; school had been closed for eleven months now because the NDLF had bombed the village school with humungous bullets from the sky. But school was over the hill, and so me, mother, father, sister, friends and God were alive. My father used to say the war was a blessing for it taught us what it means to be alive. Maybe he was right. Maybe we had been kissed by God’s own lips.
“I lost my silver lining, don’t lose yours...”
I decide to stay quiet. Quiet about how the vipers ripped me away from my family. Quiet about how they drugged my body with the blood of a ravenous snake devouring anything, everything it saw. Reconstructing my heart using glass, smashing it to pieces then rebuilding it; indurating it, crystallising the sadness and pain but also the joy.
I became the tree which had been axed away by those that called me brother. Feeling the cold metal edge filling the bruised crevices of my trunk, until the only thing holding me together was the bird’s feather that once nested in my arms. Alive? This isn’t living.
Forgive me God for I have sinned. I stood staring into the man’s emerald eyes, so calm for a time filled with such desolation. A cherub delivered from his mother’s womb. He knelt, his knees contusing on the infertile soil. His mouth wasn’t moving, but I could hear him screaming.
I prayed for help. But He ignored my cry for it. The Commandant’s orders drowned my ears;
“Had He not answered for He was ashamed of what He’d created?”
I heaved the blade and let all the muscles and tendons in my body snap until the air became static. The glass that had encased my heart, shattered and with it, my icy heart. My feet, crimson in the flesh became a shoal to the river of his blood that stained my midnight skin.
My father lied. This, rather, was our pilgrimage towards death.
“Look back. I am. But there is nothing there.”
I have rebuilt myself. One leg, hand and finger at a time.
It is hard. Harder than anything I have ever done. Occasionally, the tan from my skin escapes into the deep night. My body dismantles itself and my heart again, turns cold and heavy.
Why is it that I do not want to put them back together again? Am I afraid, that I can’t do it?
Afraid that maybe I want to stay this way?
Maybe I do.