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Those Eyes (Short Story) by Elsa Thomas

March 3, 2015

Those Eyes
by Elsa Thomas

I shot at him twice. After making sure that his fellow gunmen were killed, I walked towards him. His mutilated body told me that he was barely fourteen. The bullet had pierced through his ribs and stomach and both he and I knew that life in him was now a matter of a few minutes. I do not know why, but I stood there watching this boy cry of pain due to the physical ache and the mental agony. For us, he was a terrorist, a jihadist who we had to kill for the safety of the population that were sleeping peacefully with the undying belief that we were awake and alert for their sake, for their safety, for their peaceful existence.

The encounter went on for hours together and frankly I had lost track of time. The forest patch was such that it made the morning look like the evening time. Now back to that teenager who lay three feet away from me. After having shot about three jihads, he was my fourth target. His cries tore my ear shades into pieces. I bent down and I still have no idea why, I put my arms under his neck, supporting his back. My duty told me to do the deed but the human in me asked me to think twice. I should have shot another bullet at him, finishing off the story of another inhuman life who if he would remain alive cause nothing total destruction. I was in a dilemma but I felt my heart go out to this child who seemed to narrate to me an account of his life, a life put to death at an age so tender, a life put to death without having to kill. You may term it cowardice or a gutless act of an officer but I too had a heart which winced every time I heard this child cry out of unbearable pain. His eyes, those soft brown eyes that stared at me with a question for which I do not have and might never have an answer too.

I was sure that he was a child recruit, forced, threatened and trained by the group who decided to make use of him, both as a target and a participant. There might have been a reason for his pathway, a reason that may be laid to rest on his death, a reason that the world will remain unknown to. I wonder if the cause for which he now suffers was understood by him in the real sense or was it just the fear that coaxed him into being one among the many jihadists. He definitely was not doing or thinking and facing what a normal fourteen year old must be doing, thinking or feeling. He was a jihadist! The markings on his person showed that he was previously injured too and that proved that this was not the first time he took to shooting down the soldiers of the state.

I wondered who were that malevolent characters who forced this child into the world of darkness and ignorance; the ones who imparted to him the skill and expertise at warfare; the one who robbed him of the many pleasures of a normal life.  A man of the devil surely, was he to me. The hands that must hold a book and a pen, a mind that had to think of liberation and freedom, a boy who had to express his views to the world, the ideas that brimmed in the mind of a fourteen year old for this world was used at the leisure and convenience of some thoughtless men who never understood that it was time we spoke and practiced peace, understanding and humanity.

The boy kept howling and screaming, his eyes transfixed at mine. He knew that I was his murderer but even then, his brown eyes kept staring at me softly as if telling me that I was not responsible for this anguish. I could feel the turmoil in him. Blood oozed out of his mouth and nose, the holes on his person too let out streams of blood out on the ground. For the first time in my career did I cry at the obvious death of a jihadist! Well, not a jihadist but for a child who was nurtured the wrong way, who was abused to do something which he never comprehended; for a child who had so many more events in life to celebrate, his birthdays, his graduation, his first job, his very own car and so much more of the simple pleasures that he was and will be deprived of.

I could hear some of my fellow soldiers approach and he and I both knew of the torturous death awaiting him had he been caught by them. His eyes pleaded for the mercy that only I could grant; a mercy petition of tears that needed my approval. All of a sudden, he held my hand. I felt some wave of an unknown emotion pass through me. I passed my fingers through his hair.  All I could now do was to make death a little less painful for him for a child who knew not of the charges that he was guilty of. I stood up and walked back a few feet away from him, loaded my gun and granted his wish. This was the least I could do for this fourteen year old jihadist who never comprehended the theory for which he shed his blood, the theory that will remain untold to him.

Copyright © 2015 Elsa Thomas

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  1. Reblogged this on bychanceofserendipity and commented:
    Another one for the child amidst the war!

  2. Awesome storytelling!!!!

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