By Lobsang Kyizom
The first ray of sunlight escaping through the magnanimously cracked cave shone brightly on the face of Tashi who laid beaten down with exhaustion amidst the moss encrusted rocks. Other than the habitual squeaks of the rats and bats, the place was withdrawn from the rest of the world into its own mournful silence. With a deep sense of sobriety and urgency, he opened his eyes only to realize that what he so badly hoped to be a nightmare, actually is the unfathomable truth of the moment. No longer that the flashes of his mother’s loving face, his benevolent victory in the horse riding championship, the occasional delinquencies of a teenager and the carefree days of his youth passed by his mind, that he remembered with it, also the incident that took over the past year that had caused such turmoil, the reason of exactly why he lay hidden here in isolation. If it had not been for the war, his life would be different, a rather blissful one. But now, everything is changed for the worse.
Surmising over such thoughts as he finally regained his complete consciousness; attempted to move about, when suddenly a sharp pain on his left leg flung him down to the ground doubled with the innate force of gravity.
The bullet has shot past his leg and the bleeding has ceased, the remnants of which was starkly visible on his grey trouser, now maroon in color. It was yester evening Tashi conjured, when the chinese military started firing at them. A bullet had painfully pierced his leg slowing his apprehensive flight into strenuous stumbles that made him harbor alone in this frigid but safe alcove of a place.
And it was, perhaps, for the first time in his life that he so much longed for the darkness to set in and so it did, sooner than he expected. With the impending night and the density of the forest, Tashi rather unardously slipped away from the sight of the brutal intruders who were ordered not to spare a single life.
Four months ago, he left his home when the chinese started barging in every other house of the neighborhood as they seize the people’s land and the live stocks to achieve their ends. Any kind of defiance might cost not only one’s live but also risk that of his or her whole family’s. As a fact that it is, Tibet’s military was as much meek as China’s was powerful. With the entire country revered in religious rites and tradition, the tibetans have had no time, resources and interest to strengthen the armed service other than for petty crimes such as theft and robberies. Both his father and elder brother had already left home to fight in the war and Tashi as the youngest, had to stay restlessly under the care of his mother and sister. Despite his occasional rebuke against this restriction, he couldn’t control his growing impulse until another year when finally, he too left for the war. Tashi joined the army with two of his friends who were almost of the same age as him. With the youthful audacity and fervor common at their age, they volunteered for the barrage troop which was camped on the outskirts of Lokha. Over the months, the chinese battalions were increasing in number due to which, they frequently had to locate and dislocate. Gunshots, bloodsheds and cries of the wounded became so familiar to the senses that they were left wondering at their luck during the blessed days when non among them had to suffer the pain to death.
The last few events on his wall of memories was the the most disastrous ones. It was when they were camped by the river Nagchu. The location was chosen so, for the convenience of saving their time and efforts on their usual prolonged walk to the nearest source to fetch water. Not very far, there were some families of nomads nestled amidst the green pasture, who, for them, became the only source of comfort and peace. However, this too did not last for long.
One fine afternoon, although fine was not the right word one can ascribe to that fateful day. Bombs started showering in the vicinity when he was washing in the river, who after sensing an explosion, hurriedly dressed back into the same worn out clothes and headed to their camp. Upon getting there, he found the place all wrecked and those wounded lying unconscious on the ground. His quivering eyes traced among the faces of the casualties the few likely to survive for rescue and off they went with the quaint arms they were left with. Their numbers over the time had dropped down to hundreds, whilst their grip over the territory has started to lose.
Marching forward, they entered into the thicket of the forest to seek a temporary shelter. But, seldom did they apprehend one more faction hidden in there for another attack. With the first of the comrade shot down, they dispersed unable to discover the attackers. The former serene atmosphere of the forest was thus disrupted with the noise of gunshots and shrilling cries of the victims. He had escaped the shooting and almost reached the far edge when suddenly a bullet shot his left leg. With a thud, he fell down but somehow, he managed to climb up and started stumbling towards the opposite.
The trance broke as he came back to the present from the memories of the dreadful past. Languid and insomniac, his haggard eyes were filled with tears of bitterness. The inner conflict after witnessing all those savages upon his fellow friends, their families and innocents has made him endure sleepless nights filled with recurring nightmares. Although he escaped from the war, with his life intact, his soul has long been dented with the pain of the war. Dolma, the psychiatrist draw back the crystal from his vague vision and he finally could figure out the white walls and cabins of the hospital.