I was awakened by the loud noise which startled me in the mid of my sleep. My house had no one in it except me and my sister Aashi. My parents had gone to a relatives wedding leaving the huge responsibility of my little sister on my shoulders. I jumped out of my bed and saw Aashi sleeping safe and sound in her bed and heaved a sigh of relief. I stepped towards living room and started searching for electricity button as the noise indicated something fishy but out of nowhere someone choked my mouth and held me at gun point. I was shocked with this sudden attack and felt extreme pain as the man with the gun hit gun base on my head. Two more men rushed into my home and cornered me. Till I could gather my senses I heard machine gun spitting bullets which battered everything around. Like the crackers of diwali the firing continued without a break and bullets pierced every wall and even my TV. I was sure by now that the nightmare of every kashmiri commoner which are unknowingly pushed into the dark corners of our heart had dawned into reality.
I started shivering and my heart pumped like a mad engine. No matter how habitual you are to watch the bullets passing by whiskers length from a hero in bollywood this situation in real brings your guts to your mouth. I too could see the path of my life ending at sight and everything seemed to fade out of my eyes. Being a witness to my death approaching at pace I had hope standing on its knees. An unbearable pain rose through my head as the masked man pushed the barrel into my head and this pulled me out. The two men by my side leaped towards the sofa and the man who was holding me hostage followed the suit. Now all four of us bunkered behind the sofa to dodge the bullets of Indian Army.
After a huge string of firing the situation leaped into deafening silence. The only things to break this silence were the army boots, and the panting breath of the assailants. One of the masked aggressor was holding me in such a way that my head was being squeezed between the sofa and his leg. I was losing my senses and recalling the best moments of my life. I saw my parents in front of my eyes and I asked them to forgive me for not being able to perform my duty of protecting my sister. Even if I tried to do something their sheer physical capability was holding me down. The only thing I could do then was to wait, a patient wait that could helplessly drag me to death. For an hour or so neither the aggressors nor did I move cautioned by a warning that “We hear you hoot and we would shoot”.
One of them asked others “are we going to die? They would hunt us down…I don’t want to die…!” His voice stammered and probably he was as scared as me. The other one replied “As long as we hold this kid at noose they won’t dare to shoot us down and even if they do so don’t be a coward mujahid (warrior of god) you would go to heaven.” Once again the blanket of silence covered us all and by then both of them understood what their heaven was. The sound of bullets passing by a whiskers length could hardly not overshadow the dreams of heaven at that time. The third one spoke “I’m thirsty…do you have water?” May be they nodded in negation as I did hear no voice. Then one of them lifted me by my neck and the two others punched me black and blue. I yelled in pain when a punch landed on my belly and felt as if they ripped my guts out. Hearing my voice the violence increased and I was lying on the floor trying to protect myself.
I blanked out till a slap brought me back with one of the aggressors asking me where the water was. I pointed towards the inner room and the worst mistake that I did as Aashi was there and I didn’t want them to see her there. One of them tried to drag me by my neck I could barely walk but he wanted me to walk more than my feet could let me. He dragged me directly to the kitchen probably he knew my home more than a stranger as he may have checked it before entering there and he didn’t see my sister then. He quenched his thirst and took some water for his accomplice. When he was taking me back suddenly he heard something from Aashi’s room and he was smart enough to suspect someone’s presence. He took me as a human shield and inspected the room. I too found Aashi not to be on her bed then he moved on to the bathroom which was attached. He found out that the bathroom was locked from inside and he tried to break open the door. He kicked the door open and found Aashi at one corner all in tears. My heart was crying more than her not knowing her future fate.
He threw me aside and took steps towards Aashi. He was trying to get hold of her and she was trying to fight back as much as she could. This sight was unbearable; sometimes even death is belittled in front of the plight of our dear ones. He slapped and kicked her loosing counts and this left her as if dead. Seeing my dear sister being thrashed I was dying a thousand deaths. I gathered all my energy and stood up grabbing him from behind. He tried to shrug me off but by then I caught hold of his neck. My hands were an iron vice on his neck. Baffled he started raining bullets all around but the bullets missed me as I was too close to him. He was moving all around and then I tried to get hold of the mirror but missed and could only get a comb in my hand. I started to saw the comb on his neck and screaming in pain he fell on ground with me. With some of my fingers I chiseled my way into his face and with the other I grabbed his neck even tighter. This carried on for some time and slowly the struggle started to wear out. My fingers made way into his eyes but I did not stop.
Suddenly I heard the other two entering the room and somewhere in my mind I knew that I could not fight both of them. In no time they would take him out of my grab and slay me down like a chicken and the fate of my sister only god can tell. Now the waves of my hope were cutting the rock of death as my efforts to save me and Aashi were tiding higher and higher. I was letting my life drain out in the effort to drain out his life not loosening even a bit when a door banged open and I heard “Hands up Indian Army…!!!”
Lifting my eyelids which were hundred pounds by then I saw them through my blur vision yes they were the army men telling me to let the militant off my hold. For a moment as if brain dead I could not understand what I should do but the next moment I let him off and then tears gushed out of my eyes like blood out of a slit vein. I saw my sister staring at me with her tender innocent eyes. I hugged her and we both cried with tears all dams broken when a sturdy army man stepped forward and said “Kid it isn’t the time to cry, It’s the time for joys…You have gathered courage and killed a terrorist…!!!” I saw the dead body lying by the side and was startled to see that his face was all in blood and gore and was beyond recognition.
I wasn’t happy seeing him dead because death has no divisions weather ours or others it is to mourn. I regret the fact that I had to kill him but my grief could have known no bounds if I couldn’t protect Aashi. Its situation we make that compel us to kill and live, believe that we are equal when it’s the right to live.