This was a tale older than the ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harrapa…
A young boy and his sister lay huddled together under the banana tree, seeking refuge from the hard balls of rain that were soaking Mother Earth with blood that could be called innocent. The sickly smell of ammunition was the sad, new petrichor, and the bitter sound of those man-made birds and the heartbreaking shrieks of grief and agony were the new pitter patter of the rain.
The young boy closed his eyes, hugging his sister: his bandaged mother lay helplessly on the cane stretcher. No, not helplessly; she was dead and death had the power to unchain you from the paralysis of feelings and emotions. Wrapped up in strips of white bandage that were meant to heal the burns on her gentle body, now only her eyes were visible; it was as if even in death, she was watching over her children. He opened his eyes with a start and pulled the malnourished body of his sister closer. There was no movement.
She’s fallen asleep, perhaps.
Feel her pulse!
He did not.
“I’ll take her back to the shelter and feed her. I’ll steal some bananas from…oh, I don’t know, from somewhere, from anywhere!” he was loud enough to convince himself.
He picked up his sister and trudged. Slowly, defeated; in grief, in pain. And then he just couldn’t take it anymore. He struggled to understand how a nation’s greatness could depend on the number of ‘enemy-cities’ destroyed by its army. He couldn’t accept the fact that a nation’s success in war was parallel to the statistics of ‘enemy lives’ lost. He shuddered to think that a human life cost less than a bowl of rice when the clock mercilessly struck ‘war’. He thought of his brave father in the battlefield – alone in an army of courage, killing other men, other fathers – and his already dead heart lost again.
He cried, simply because his tired mind hated him and his heart mocked his mind for behaving like a heart. It was complicated, but then, these were not normal times. You know the end has arrived when everything fails you – reasoning, logic, love, pride – and you have nothing to gain and nothing to lose and all that is left behind is a strangling stillness that makes you aware of the slow pain that drowns your heart and you question the existence of Existence and even hatred seems like an ant trying to bite an elephant.
The boy stared at the lifeless body of his sister. It was getting dark. It was getting darker.
A firefly flew past his head, and he looked up.
“Why must fireflies die so young?” the innocence and love and sadness in that little voice tore him apart.
They stood by the makeshift tent. They were burying the fireflies that had been their only friends.
“I liked chasing them! They were magical! They were so tiny but they gave out light and that…felt happy!” she was a little child struck by the calamity of human egos and thirst for corrupted power.
He would forever love fireflies. Forever.
Inspired by the movie, ‘Grave of the Fireflies’: http://www.watchanimemovie.com/sub-dub/grave-of-fireflies.html