Aaida Nawar Arpa, Class XI
I watched as the sun, our sole beacon of hope, rose above the horizon to illuminate the world with its glorious light. In this place, with each daybreak comes a promise- for peace, calm and serenity. Along with the slow, gentle tide of the ocean, the momentary gushes of sea- sprayed wind, and the warm glow of the sun, we cannot imagine this place to be any sweeter than it already was. Nevertheless, it always felt as if the intensity of happiness and tranquility we were experiencing increased day by day.
A seagull squawked overhead as I stared into the distance. many might think that standing in the same position for hours on end is quite monotonous. However, captivated by the gentle lapping of the waves, it felt as if every sore wound from the treacherous nights were being slowly being healed. The world seemed silent, now that all the gunfire and explosions of the war had ended. But all that mattered to me was that my family was safe and well-protected.
I was not alone on the beach. The ecstatic laughter of small children rang all across to the harbour where a few fishermen were hauling up their magnificent catches. Mostly, I saw elderly people with the same grin of happiness spread across their faces as I had on mine. At only rare moments would encounter teenagers like me, wandering around, skipping rocks, or just contemplating deeply, soaking in the breathtaking aura of the environment. And how could they not? Just being here could wash away all the distress from one’s mind.
Just when I had fully accepted the fact that life could actually run smoothly here, I noticed the sun slowly making its way down towards the horizon. “No not again…”, I thought to myself as my heart started beating faster. All of my survival instincts perked up, but I knew that there was no running from this. It was inevitable.
Time seemed to have quickened its pace since the sky already turned dark-red. For a while, everything remained still as a cold jolt of wind went up my spine. All of a sudden, someone screamed triggering all the others to feel a soul screeching shout and answer a frantic call for help. But I could not move- not when my body felt as if it had been run over by a hundred-ton tractor. Even though I desperately wanted to scream like the rest, something was preventing me from that freedom of expressing the pain. Without warning, the ground gave away and I fell down into an endless pitch black pit, only to hit the ground again with a sickening crunch. My ears erupt as the throbbing of the blood engulfs my senses, sending jolts of pain to my head now and then. Slowly and steadily the throbbing sensation flows down my body, dead centre on my chest- to the point I was shot.
A piercing white hot flame shocks me where the bullet was still embedded into my skin, making me double over in agony. Against my will, my limbs twist, deforming me while the fire continued to burn inside of me. The pain. The unbearable pain. It was too much for me, but there was no escape from this. The place that had seemed hopeful before, now was bleak. “Murder!”- unrecognizable voices whispered. Warm tears ran down my face as I tried hanging on to my consciousness, hoping this torment would end soon.
They say there are two places we can go when our life has ended- heaven or hell. I now realize why they had merged into one. A person is rarely completely good or bad. But they have to be punished and awarded accordingly. I am probably let off easy since the only crime I believe I have done was to kill people in the war. If this is what I deserved for my paltry sins then I shudder to think what the real criminals were going through.
I forgot how many days and nights I have been here, nor do I want to think about it. The daylight rewarding enough for my life on Earth.
As I surrendered to slow lingering torture of the flames, I await the sun to rise again and bathe us in its forgiving light, denoting our release from hell for it is to be repeated all over again.