From atop the age-old Kamakhya hill, one could look down the breadth of the mighty Brahmaputra, across the tens of small boats ferrying locals from one bank to the other. This was the place where the local Ahom kings, using indigenous techniques of warfare, had once beaten back the mighty Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Today, this land was witnessing a different agitation.
X had never been involved in any movement or agitation whatsoever, not even the ones in his college, demanding better food in the hostel mess. He was consequently looked down on by his classmates as not being strong enough. Today as the rains lashed down on him, he stood without an umbrella or a raincoat, allowing himself to get drenched, unable to fight off the uncomfortable feeling that his life was about to change forever.
He hardly felt the rains lashing down on him. His mind was far away today, not even dwelling on the admissions processes of the American universities he dreamed of getting into. The agitation had affected everyone he knew. And then there was the matter of Y.
Y. His best friend since infancy. The only person who could make him act against his wishes. X felt horrified to even think that Y was among those who had attacked the police superintendent’s vehicle last week.
A month ago, Y had come to him with a trunk full of letters from whichever misguided fanatic who was leading their movement. “Guard them with your life,” he had said. “My own home is not safe. I cannot allow my widowed mother to find out that I am involved.”
“Then why the hell are you doing it in the first place? Open your eyes man,” begged X.
“For our land,” said Y, and then he was gone.
And guarded it with his life he had. Until that letter arrived last night.
It was common knowledge that X did not have the resources to fulfill his dreams of enrolling in a top American university. The letter was short. It read:
“We know you have the letters. Things have gone too far. We cannot be linked to the incident last week. Your friend acted on his own. Destroy the letters in front of us. You will not have to spend a penny for your education abroad.”
X’s tears mixed freely with the rainwater streaming down his face as he stood with the trunk. A simple thrust on his part would guarantee the future he had dreamed of since before he could even remember. It would also, without any doubt, completely destroy Y’s life.
On the other hand, he could hide the letters and claim that they were lost. Y would survive, but X himself would have to give up his dreams.
There was an hour before one of ‘them’ would turn up at this spot to oversee the destruction of the letters. But X felt that he would be unable to make up his mind even if he had ten years to ponder over it. All he was conscious of was the feeling that he was living the most agonising hour of his life.
The man turned up. They met. They exchanged a few words. And then, as if on their own, X’s hands threw the trunk into the river.
“Good choice, young man. You are a winner and will go far in life,” said the man.
But X could not reply. He knew that he had lost. No victory would give him the satisfaction of a victory ever again. He pocketed the cheque and turned back.
The rains continued lashing down on Assam for a month, as if the heavens themselves could not check their tears.
(inspired by actual events)
Aditya is a guest author with LSD. He is currently struggling trying to figure out how WordPress works, but will ace it by the next post.