(Based on an in-class exercise at one of the Write to Reconcile workshops. A little simpler than what I would generally write, but here it is, until I come up with my next post)
Savithri and her sister Sujatha led their two dogs across the harvested field that belonged to Ananda, their father’s old friend. Everything was going the way of the two girls when they set out. The low breeze enveloped the world like a cool curtain, lifting the locks of hair off their once-sweaty shoulders. Their dogs barked and slobbered with dumb happiness as only a dog could as the girls led them by hand. Savithri heaved a sigh halfway there.
Their dogs were delightful, dainty little mongrels, and practically took care of themselves meant that she had time to spend-or “waste”-on herself. These were such sturdy, adaptable creatures, far more than the cattle and goats that were so common everywhere. The scent of coconut oil massaged finely into her glistening hair, was dancing on the sweeping wind. Her memory jogged along with her feet. Her parents said so many things about her “habits” as they called them.
“Worrying about her face! I will find a husband one day, then you will find out that your face is not at all important!” her mother rasped sharply from the labyrinth of her mind.
“Buy this dress, buy that!” The thunder of her father’s voice hit her like…
Pursing her lips, she shook her head violently. For fifteen years she’d been alive but for all those years, she’d never known what the thunder in the north was about. She felt in the depths of her heart that something was wrong with someone else in that vast country. A cascade of thoughts rushed through her and the wind brought on a sudden drop in temperature. “Catch up, come on!” Sujatha’s voice struck her in unison with the powerful chill of the wind. Emotions mixed in her mind and heart as she clenched her fists, nerves rising with each tremor of soft tan skin.
“Catch up, come on now!”
Some god with a crude sense of humor had tipped her world on its head. Why would she care what happened to those other people? The poor villagers. Those miserable creatures always shied away from her own race, but all she knew was, they were being massacred. Slaughtered like cattle, so the newspapers told her. Those words in block letters stung her heart as it drummed away within her ample chest. She was, for a second, blind and deaf, standing alone and straight as a pillar. The wind attacked her, biting viciously into her limbs and chest as dull, hellish thunder shook the air. The two dogs whimpered nervously.
“There, there.” Sujatha’s gentle voice calmed down her dog, a small spotted pup with spindly legs. “Now come on, sister, let’s go!”
Savithri’s face darkened, an emotionless cloud passing over her eyes.
She could not explain what she read about all the time. Slaughtered people, both Sinhala and Tamil, lying in their own blood. the hands of Yama, King of the Dead, would not lead them to his dark kingdom. The great tumulus of earth loomed ahead, casting a low shadow over the area. It stretched across the plain like an ugly scar, festering with pus of barbed wire. She had never tried to climb that barbed wire, unlike the foolish village children.
Their screams would echo from whatever monster lurked behind the mound. Monsters that took the form of humans, and wielding the cruelest weapons in all the Three Worlds.
She was from the biggest house in their village.
She was not poor, she would never be poor.
But she asked herself, what right did she have to insult those ignorant and sometimes extremely young, poor children? Had she been like them-she prayed and wept every night, hoping that she wouldn’t-she would end up with her house burned and the flower of her innocence ripped away from her body.
That scar tainting her landscape hid secrets so dark that she felt her heart sink into an abyss as she pondered about the mound.
No divine hand could allow men to murder one another in cold blood. “Walking the dogs was all your idea, you know. You told me that we could go up to the…” The little girl’s excited and subtly confused banter stopped. Her sister’s expression was rock-hard but her mind was racing. The great wind once more lifted her dress off her legs as the vast shadow of a supersonic aircraft blotted out the sun like a hell-born bird. Sujatha looked up at Savithri.
The unspoken understanding between sisters rippled in the air as Savithri’s gaze hardened. This metal dragon had launched itself from behind the tumulus like all the others they had seen. Minutes crawled by at snail’s pace as the dogs whimpered at their mistresses. Thunder again filled their ears, though Savithri’s eardrums felt like exploding. But they didn’t.
“It doesn’t matter.” Her reply was curt. It was hopeless trying to think about the atrocities that occurred in their world. Nothing mattered. Not the dancing blades of grass, slicing against their legs, nor the angry roar that swept across the plain like an invisible wave. It didn’t matter when Savithri’s mind struggled with flashing images of the bomber’s vicious cargo decimating people in their thousands and turning beautiful forests into lifeless hellholes.
It didn’t at all.