It was early evening. Dark skies about to burst rain any time. He had the urge to reach to his home, before it started to rain.
He was restless. Impatient and edgy.
The rocky knoll, where he was standing was still hot with the afternoon sun. He needed to reach the other side. The knoll had lots of thorny bushes and he must be watchful where he was setting his foot.
He heard some rustling sound. His sixth sense said, there is some danger nearby. The smell of the humid air, had a tinge of putrefying blood. He could sense that the animal is going to charge towards him in the next one or two steps. The big dotted one!
He was getting angry. The animal was blocking his way to his home. He had lost few of his family members to the wild animals recently. Including his child born during last summer. He felt sad, as the memories flashed - of putting the remains of the child half eaten by the big dotted one, to rest.
The anger grew up to a full rage. His body tightened and the breathing became fast and heavy. His fist tightened to an iron grip. He could hear the growl and more rustling of leaves.
In a flash, the yellow colour of the big dotted one, leapt towards him from the high ground.
The club landed exactly on the side of the head of the big dotted one. The momentum of the leap along with the sudden hit, made the big dotted one to lose balance and fall with its face down on the rock. He ran behind, and landed another big blow, breaking the spine of the big dotted one.
Big dotted one tried to fight back – clawing its paws in the air. He was determined. His rage was uncontrollable. He kept hitting until the growl turned to a whimper and ended with just spasms.
By the time he reached home, rain started to pour in thick and heavy. He ran into his home and could see that his wife and kids were all cuddled together tight, sitting in the corner.
He could not see his other clan folks. His wife was relieved to see him and ran towards him, leaving the baby down. She must have also heard the growl. She saw the blood stains, some minor injuries and the frayed club.
She wanted to say something. But she could not.
He wanted to say something. But he could not.
Because language was not invented by then. The year was 10,000 BC. All they did was embrace each other.
Rampal held his pike tight. Anxious, fearful. He was uttering a silent prayer and looked around. His cousin Kishan was also muttering something. Tried hard to hear what he was saying. It turned out to be a filthy curse.
Rampal could even smile, when the raiders can turn up any time.
The village elders had warned. Every fourth or fifth generation, it was repeating. The wealth of the five rivers, created lot of animosity and jealousy with the desert dwellers. They rallied young clansmen, created an army and march towards the land of five rivers, to plunder. The promise of wealth, food and women never failed to turn on youngsters.
The raiders were relentless.
This time the villagers had advance information through the herdsmen. They could see the scouts of the desert dwellers hiding in a bush in the knoll. The herdsmen raised the alarm to the village elder, informing about the scouts in the hills trying to reconnaissance the village.
If the scouts go back to the desert men across the river, then their army will certainly land in. Humiliation to their clan women, loss of relatives and friends. The village is as good as gone. The face of young Bano came to his mind.
The Village elder quickly raised a small group of men to deal with the desert army’s scouts and sent them to the hills with the instruction, Never let them escape.
The leader of the scout was not aware of the ambush in-waiting. He and his fellow men, scanned the perimeter and they crossed the small patch of open area in the hill, overlooking the village. They will camp tonight in the shades of the bushes, eating their last remnants of the goat meat and the flat bread they had packed with them two days back.
After a while...
The scout leader gave an expression of surprise when he saw Rampal. A fearful villager with wide eyes and open mouth. The villager was about to say something.
Rampal was equally surprised. The scout leader was well over 6 ½ feet, broadly built and tanned. If the scout party escapes, that is the end of his village. He had heard of scary stories from the village elder,who kept reminding him of the atrocities of the desert men.
The scout leader then, saw the pike in the villager’s hand. He was too close to the villager. He reached for his short dagger in his waist band.
No one spoke anything.
Rampal drove the pike straight to the heart of the scout leader and let out a war cry. Kishan and the other villagers joined in soon. The scout party did not anticipate the ambush. They could see their leader falling down in slow motion, hand still waving the dagger in the air.
They quickly went on high alert and started to engage the villagers. For the next few minutes – metals clanged, blood spurt out of wounds, verbal abuses thrown on each other and cries of pain were heard in a cacophony of languages.
Rampal’s hands were trembling. Everything happened around was so swift. He was not prepared for this. He never saw such a mayhem.
He and another injured scout - The last men standing.
Rest of all the party had killed each other. Blood flowing down the rocks. Badly injured men slithering in their own fluids, mumbling and trembling. They wished they died sooner.
Rampal still had his pike in hand. The scout had a sword in his hand. Both men were trembling. Fear, rage, not sure.
The scout said something in his language that sounded like let me go. I will not harm you.
Rampal did not say anything. He was seeing deep into the dark eyes of the scout, anticipating his every move. Muscles tensed up. Few more minutes passed. The scout was also not lowering his sword. Stalemate.
Rampal wanted to puke. He was overwhelmingly emotional to see his friends dead and half dead. Kishan’s life was about to leave his body. In the middle of spasms, Kishan was asking for water feebly. All Rampal could do was cry.
The scout saw Rampal’s dilemma. But he was not sure, if he should lower guard.
For a moment, Rampal got distracted. The salt of his sweat got in to his eyes. He wanted to wipe.
The scout charged at Rampal with a battle cry, sword held at his hip level, forward.
How Rampal moved, he could not understand. The Kabaddi reflex he gained while playing with his dead friends?
He quickly moved away from the line of charge, swung his hip and shoved the pike towards the charging scout.
The scout lost balance, fell face forward cutting himself with his own sword across his stomach, in the melee.
What Rampal saw was, the scout on the ground, writhing and trying to get up. He lifted his pike and gripped it hard.The scout slowly turned around. He still had the sword in his hand. He was clutching something with his other hand.
Rampal was horrified. “I can not fight him if he has two swords.“ I have been barely trained few days back.
Then he saw. The scout holding his intestines that had popped out through the cut in the stomach. He was not bleeding much though. The scout was holding his stomach, either out of pain or reflexively. The scout bent down and saw his own condition.
The scout waved his sword angrily. Muttered something in a different language, which Rampal presumed to be an abuse.
Rampal held his pike tight. Should I fight him or should I wait for the next move?
Rampal felt nauseous. The earth was spinning around him.Rampal wanted to sit down and pee.
The scout tried to stand up, but the pain was coming in big waves. He remembered disemboweling few villagers earlier. Few of them had survived a day or two before dying finally, on their own. He did not want to die in pain like this. He did not recall any other injuries in his body. Can he reach to the horse tied up, down the hill on his own? The medic in the base camp, can probably stitch him up to survive another day.
He needs to put an end to this villager. He is the last man standing. The scout waved his sword to the villager.
The scout was injured but he did not seem to be affected much. Bloody desert warriors.
The scout yelled in his language – “Come fight like a man. You dirty @##$#$ @#%%el . I will @#$@ your family”
Rampal heard something like Bano , and the scout was showing action with his sword, what he will do with Bano.
Rampal was enraged. He charged forward.
The scout was expecting this. He raised his sword and swung hard.
Rampal was lying on the ground. The blood was warm and gushing through the wounds and it was smelly. He remembered the face of Bano before passing out.
Bano’s face was up close. Rampal was looking to his right and left. Searching for the scout and his pike. It was his home in the village. Bano was wiping him with hot water “You are a hero now. The second team of villagers found you all. Only you had survived. The village elder is proud of his son in law”.
Rampal did not say anything.
She hugged him. He was aroused with the relief. The nameless, faceless genes of his ancestor in the Scene-1 woke up in Rampal’s body and smiled.
His residence was on the hill top. Overlooking the Arabian Sea. The view of the glimmering sea was something, he always enjoyed, whenever he was stressed out with one or the other event. Those were the days.
Roy took his revolver. He had decided long back how to end this. Referred to Internet for the forensics report of US homicides. Plus his own police department files.
He knew the best position and the place to discharge his weapon. He set the safety catch off. Pulled the trigger. The angry hammer released with a pretty loud Click.
With a wry smile, satisfied with the dry run, he took the mobile phone camera, put it on video mode. Adjusted the camera angle and the settings.
He looked around. He saw all his awards, medals, family photograph. It meant nothing. Nothing!
The emptiness of his mind was eating him alive - day in and day out. His best days were behind him.
With the habits of an organized officer, leader of the Delivered his final speech towards the camera in short and crisp language, holding no one responsible for his death and thanking his doctors and his wife for fighting along with him.
While the camera was still running, loaded the revolver, without much thinking (what is there to think now?), took a deep breath, adjusted his back rest, sat deep in his chair, placed the revolver close to his face, and …
The barrel was cold. The AC was humming. The loud noise was what he heard last. A flash of light.
Rampal and the unknown ancestor were nodding their head in disagreement, as their genes in Roy's blood was angrily bubbling out of the exit wound towards the carpeted floor.
They were saying in unison “tch.. tch.. Is this for what we survived all through? Fought all hardships that were thrown at us - war, famine, wild animals, disease in so many centuries? What you did was utterly wrong! Where did you lose your fighting spirit? You failed us! ”
Roy was looking at his ancestors nonchalantly with an expressionless face. Very dead.
Inspired by Himanshu Roy. Om shanti.