March 6th, 2007 06:40 EST
Bravery of a Coward
"Kale! Kale!! Where are you? C'mon, we got to go home now. It’s getting very dark already." The small shadow shouted in a loud ladies voice at dusk. However, Kale didn’t care. He kept on playing the game of FAMILY with Ramu, his friend. Their family was united and full of love and happiness.” You’ve grown big enough that you won’t even obey me anymore. Now, I have to drag you home." The lady dragged Kale to a small hut. This made Kale and Ramu cry very loud. Later, everything remained as it was.
The woman above is the 63 year old grandmother of Kale. Kale is four years old. The grandmother’s name is Kamala and now she has only one grandchild, Kale. She had two sons- Ram and Shyam. Ram had married Gita and had a son Kale. They were poor, so Ram used to go to city to work. Kamala used to work on a small piece of land where she grew enough vegetables to sustain her family’s life. Gita used to help Kamala with housework and also worked for others when she had some free time to earn extra money.
Ram and Gita were looking after the family while Shyam had join Maoists, a rebel group fighting in Nepal for a new revolution and was chief in commander there. Kamala didn’t like it and used to scold Shyam. She left no stone unturned to change his mind, but nothing went as per her expectations. The country was in the state of domestic war and what would happen next, she was unsure. Once on their journey to the city, Ram and Gita were killed in the ambush by Maoists where nobody was gifted life. All the passengers inside the bus were killed. The main hand behind this was.... Shyam! Shyam had killed his brother!! Unfortunately, at the same time, Shyam was killed in the firings between Maoists and national armies.
Now, Kamala's world has tumbled down. These accidents made Kamala burst to tears. Now, she had neither sons nor her daughter in law. She only had Kale. She thought to look after Kale and was determined to pay any cost for this. It was dark, time for dinner. Kamala passed food to Kale who was now happy with his grandmother. He ate more than he usually did. It pleasured Kamala. But, she suddenly realized the situation was about to get worst.
There were rumors regarding the attack of Maoists over the village's police post and unfortunately she had seen some Maoists in the village this afternoon. They looked young and innocent but.... Therefore, Kamal instantly finished dinner and was about to go to sleep. She checked her door and windows and ensured they were properly closed. She had lain on the bed when she noticed that Kale was asleep.
"Oh God! Help me. If there's clash this night, what would I do? If anything happens to Kale, then my life will be meaningless. Lord! Where did you bring me? Where did you bring my country? I have lost my family and now I am the only one left to care for Kale. Do you want me to separate from him? No, you can't. You have to walk over my body to touch Kale. If anything happens to Kale, I'll kill myself in front of you.” Kamala thought. Bang! Bang!! Bang!!! Bang!!!! Bang!!!!! Bang!!!!!!
What Kamala heard made her weak. Oh! Maoists had attacked the police station and they were sharing firings. There was sound of bullets and bombs. One bullet pierced Kampala’s window. Kamala felt danger. "Thank God! You have given me what I didn’t desire. So, what do you want now? These acts have made people not believe you. Thanks. Now, I have to save Kale. I need to leave this place and go to a safer place. Yes, I will go to my father's place. Maybe, I will find someone to help me. Yes, I must leave now." Kamala had only thought when a bullet passed by her left ear. Kamala's heart leaped. She carried Kale on her back and some of his clothes.
She didn’t care about her own. She had just opened the front door when she saw a man dying. He was covered by bloods all over the body. She stepped forward to help him but had a narrow escape from a bullet. She was already lucky two times and anything could happen at the third time, she thought. She made her heart full of stone and changed her mind from helping him. She focused on her grand child and ran to the uphill-to the forest and on another side of the hill, there was her safe place. She started running but the sounds of firings and bombardments woke Kale and he started crying. This even worsened the situation for Kamala. On her way, she saw many other villagers running to save their life. She was far behind them. Suddenly, some shadows with guns started firing miserably on the villagers. They all started screaming in pain. Kamala couldn’t believe her eyes and her luck. She couldn’t believe her eyes in the sense that she saw her villagers die in front of her and luck in the sense that she were again lucky to be alive. She tried to recognise the shadows but couldn’t. She was confused whether they were Maoists or the National Army. She felt unsafe when Kale cried. She closed his mouth and changed her route. She headed towards a bushy path. She ran as fast she could but she was weak and old. She moved bushes that were stopping her way and managed to do it safe until she realized there was a thorny bush in front of her as if laughing at her weakness. Suddenly, Kale spoke,” Grandma! Where are we going?"
Kamala:” Somewhere safe and far" Kale: "Why are these new sounds here?"
Kamala: "Because, uncles are fighting." Kale: "Why? Even I and Ramu don’t fight. But, uncles are big, aren't they?"
Kamala remained speechless and asked Kale to be quiet. Kale remained calm but he was thinking why were big people fighting when even children don't fight? He thought to ask but stayed quite. After speaking to Kale, Kamala got new strength and she finally removed the bush and made their way through it. Down below, she saw her village and her house on fire. She burst into tears for she had built that house with a great difficulty and it was no more.
Kale couldn’t control himself when he saw his grandma crying and said, "Why are you crying grandma?" Kamla replied," Nothing. You need to stay quiet. Be obedient." Kale was quiet and he felt asleep after sometime.
Now, Kamala was walking through a dangerous forest through which people didn't dare to walk even at day light but saving Kale had motivated Kamala to walk through the forest. It had dangerous animals inside it. She even heard some but didn’t care. She was focused on her mission. Finally, she passed the wood and was lucky to be safe. She finally reached her father's place but realized her relatives that lived that were no more, they had migrated to the city. She took a deep breath and thought about what to do since she was helpless and it was almost dawn. She then went to nearby water stream and quenched her thirst. She felt safe now but was confused about what to do. Taking deep breath again, she got prepared to collect wood to start a new life for herself and Kale.