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The Blind Leading…“In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti”

T
he trees swayed. The relentless wind had reached a pitch that now they screamed in ears shivering shoulders in its wake. On both sides the paddy fields knee high with rice planted danced in a waving tempo. There was rain coming. You knew once you took a look at the sky. Lightning had yet to come but thunderheads crackled with malevolent energy and glowed from within.

The villages in the distant looked desolate and haunted…devoid of people its thatched awnings swishing in the tempest. The doctor took in his surroundings. The last trip to the last house had been taxing. The boy had been quite delirious, his mangled arm stuck at an unearthly angle. Sorting it out had been hard, the boy was barely 8 years old and holding him down while he set the splint had taken all of his self-control. The racking screams of pain and the writhing agony flashed before his eyes.

The walk back home…that's what he always dreaded the long walk back home. No matter how hard he tried he always relived the moments he spent with his patients. Sometimes he cherished them, like the time he helped that woman with her seven-month baby with diarrhoea. The grateful look from that woman was enough to make his day. But…there were days when the extent of human agony that he had to witness started to disturb him, when he was alone. Today the stricken child would keep him company, his screams joining the already screaming wind.

He looked up at the sky, the first flashes of lightning had just lighted the world in eerie, iridescent purplish light, casting demonic shadows that twisted and turned and almost came alive while the light lasted. He prayed it wouldn't rain. The day had been long and already quite hard and he all he wanted was to just get into bed.

The boy had been eight. And he the boy had been brave; no doubt to have done what he did and survived. He had stood up to those who came and opposed his family and he had stood up ad defended his religion. He was a Hindu in a land of Muslims and the fact that he was fatherless and lived with his widowed mother only made things worse for him…all the more worse.

The fanatics from the nearby Madrasa had come in the afternoon. They all claimed to be righteous, virtuous men; men to be believed in. And the villagers all believed in them, because they had seen examples what happened of non belief and opposition. No, they believed and they didn't do anything when the bearded men came for the poor Hindu family. With torches and pikes the men yelled for the family to move away and never to come back. The boy had stood up and faced them, defiant and proud. He was found hanging from a tree. His mother was dead and his older sister had committed suicide after the ravage. Religions allowed the believers to rape and pillage the non believers; the spoils of leading a holy war…

The doctor had been informed once the villagers had realized that the boy was still alive. He was with the NGO firm now. They had taken him in and the doctor hoped to god the boy would survive the night.

He heard a rustling behind as the night crackled with the first issue of thunder as clouds clashed for supremacy. He looked behind him and all the blood jumped and clogged his heart. There were five of them, the same pikes in their hands, the same grim look. No torches this time, just the grim determination of men doing their job.

The doctor stumbled in his path, the cross around his neck twinkling and sending of sparks as lightning flashed of it. The sparks lighted his face and the men hit out then, one of the pike being driven deep into the doctors left eye. He fell with a scream and as if on command it began to rain.

“Shouldn't have interfered, we did warn you to stay away from our village,” One of them said coldly.

“Bloody heretics bringing their filth and dirtying our homes with their presence,” Another spat.

“We warned that NGO of yours, we warned the others and we warned you. You leave us no choice. We can't allow filth like you spreading,”

The doctor, knowing that his time had come prayed a silent prayer, and crossed himself for the last time. And the pikes lashed in again ending it.

The boy died the same night.


Man vs. World

Fear Town

There's a little town in Bermuda called Fear Town. It's an ordinary town, really, full of ordinary people. The only difference is that they live in perpetual Fear. No one really knows exactly what they're afraid of, but the Fear pervades every corner of their minds. The Fear itself comes in many forms…

Priest: “The idolaters, the fake prophets, the sinners, ALL those who did not accept the one true God in their heart,their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. All you pagans and gluttons and misers, you're all going to burn and die fiery deaths, and you shall not be spared…

Parent: “You better eat your broccoli, children…or the broccoli is going to eat you…”

Mayor: “They are out there. And they want to take us down because they can't have what we have. At times like this, you must trust us to deliver you from war and terror…because the terrorists know where to strike, they know our vulnerabilities, they have weapons far powerful than we can ever imagine. And the only way we can take them down, is to trust in me.”

School teacher: “The world's full of losers like you; losers who tried and failed. That's right; this world reeks of failure. And you all are going to be a bunch of failures if you don't buck up and do as we say. We know what's best for you. So don't ask questions; just follow. Or else you're going to end up driving a cab for the rest of your life.”
If the townspeople thought they were going to go on living in fear, they were wrong. There was someone, the Protagonist, who decided he was going to take down Fear. And because Fear existed in so many forms, he was going to attack them, one by one.

Protagonist: You're all a bunch of idiots…you're being brainwashed into believing whatever it is they want you to believe. They want you to live in Fear, so that you ask no questions…they're taking away your life, your freedom…
And he went around, destroying Fear wherever he could. He broke into the Mayor's office, vandalized school property, threw eggs and got into scuffleanything to make the townsfolk sit up and realize that they were being led up the wall.
He was doing fine until one day the Mayor came up and said something that turned his world upside down.

Mayor: What is it that you're fighting? Do you not realize that you're the biggest loser amongst us all…because between you and me, you're the one who fears Fear?
That did it. His world came crashing down. His mind collapsed. His soul was crushed.
He spent the rest of his life stark raving mad.

By Shehtaz Huq and Ahsan Ksajid


The cost of freedom 

Was scared stiff. The bullets rained down from all directions. I saw my fellow soldiers running to stay alive. I stood cold as each member of my squadron died right before my eyes. Finally I was able to get a grip on myself and run for cover. As I ran through the forest, Tom suddenly tackled me and I tumbled onto the ground. A split second later, a bullet went over my head, Tom had saved my life.

After running for half an hour, we reached the outskirts of the forest. There were no signs of allies around. Most of the men must have been killed, the others captured, and eventually executed. We looked around and saw fire and smoke at the far west village. We knew they had executed all the villagers. They never spared anyone. In our mind we heard their screams as if we were right there. Six months on the battlefield would do that. We never had nightmares we lived it everyday. Tom pointed towards the far east, we had an hour's walk to get to the river. After that, freedom. We maneuvered our way through the fields with the utmost caution. We didn't want to get ambushed as we had been back at the camp. We did not rest for a minute. With every passing minute it felt they were gaining on us. We were in a foreign land with no shelters and no allies, with nothing but traps surrounding us. It was a hunting game, and we were the hunted. With half way to go still, the lone water bottle attached to my belt was near empty. As we scouted the area, we saw torches behind the bushes. As we peaked cautiously through the trees we saw only dead bodies. It didn't scare us. We have been seeing this for a long time now. Probably too long. Finally we reached the river. I got onto the only boar, and Tom started untying it from the tree. We were almost there. I looked at Tom. He had finished untying the rope, and the boat was now moving. But he was now just standing there, smiling and waving at me. It was then I realized what had happened.

A drop of tear ran down my cheek as I saw a hole right in his head with blood flowing down. There were torches right behind him; they were getting closer every second. Tom shouted to me, "we are free."

By Eresh Omar Jamal

 

Book review

The Chrysalids

Sitting in on the RS workshop this week was a pleasure as the hidden thespians amongst the team members began to emerge through their presentations. The themes they worked with included technology, 'pollution', 'war', 'fear' and 'future'. Enjoyable as it was, the session left me at a loss of what to write about this week that would fit in with the scheme.

Later, while cleaning up after the meeting, I spied a copy of John Wyndham's The Chrysalids lying on the table, presumably left behind by one of the staff writers. I'd read an extract from the book years ago while working on a Language assignment, and despite wanting to, never got to read the whole thing. This was an opportunity too good to pass up, so I pocketed the book. The Chrysalids was first published in 1955 and talked of a futuristic, post nuclear-disaster world, where the survivors of the human race were gradually trying to rebuild their devastated world, reduced to li. The results of the disaster wrought by the 'Old People' are evident: there are weird deformations amongst all living creatures: animals, plants, and even people.

 











The story is centred around a land called Labrador, where jihad has been declared on mutants and 'deviance'. Mutant livestock are slaughtered, whole fields of mutated crops are ceremonially burnt down. Anyone caught with even the slightest defect, is condemned as 'not human', sterilized (to prevent from breeding 'abominations') and driven off the cultivable lands to fend for himself in the 'Fringes', a wild land filled with odd plants and animals and other defective humans.

The protagonist, David Strorm, the son of the very evangelist who spearheads this Anti-Mutant movement, befriends a girl called Sophie, who is discovered with six toes on each feet. When the girl is caught and dealt with, and he himself is severely whipped, David's indoctrination against 'deviants' begins to unravel. Adding to this is the fact that David, his cousin Rosalind, and some others begin to discover that they themselves aren't very normal despite their normal outward appearances, for they can communicate through telepathy. When evidence of this new form of deviance is discovered, David and his friend, the Chrysalids, become targets of their own families, who fear and hate them. This leads to a fast-paced manhunt that culminates in an explosive finish.

While we're lucky enough that Wyndham's vision of the future has not yet come to pass, the themes he brings up are all too real for comfort. We do fear those that are different from us, and from that fear arises hatred, and ultimately war. Technology is, more often than not, used to harm than help, and we are surely pushing Nature towards an ultimate stand. We only need to look through the pages of history to know this is true. Even at present times, from repression of minorities, to racial wars, to pollution, everything that the author discussed in his book is happening before our very eyes. The Chrysalids is thus a deeply disturbing, yet compelling read, as those who have appeared for their O Level Literature would know. So, even if you haven't taken the subject, do give this book a try.

By Sabrina F Ahmad
Sabera.jade@gmail.com

 
 

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