Short story – fiction. “Up in Arms”
“Up in Arms”
The Helicopters flied at very low level, few were hovering over suspicious muddy mountains, which, it seemed the pilots had mistaken for abodes of rebels.
Beebarg ran towards the shelter, which they had covered with wild bushes for camouflage. He was amazed at the happenings. It was the very first time he had forgotten his gun in the Tent and that too on a day when gunships had arrived to search them like wolfhounds look for wolves. After picking his gun and backpack, in which he kept a diary and a few other day to day tools and cloths to counter the harsh weather, he tried to have an understanding of the situation. Meerain, his cousin, looked a little confused; after all it was the first time they were in such a situation.
He could listen the sound of gunfire but couldn’t ascertain where was it coming from. May be the second camp was under attack as the sound of these guns seemed unfamiliar to him. “It must be the sound of gunships,” he murmured.
“Ustaad has ordered to leave the tents and take shelter under the trees towards the north of the camp,” Meerain shouted.
Every one ran towards the wild fig trees. They were thick enough to hide all 19 revolutionaries, who were students, doctors or uneducated peasants. They all had left the comforts of their homes as an act of self-defense.
“Collect your valuables and documents, if you have any, we will be leaving this camp in a while. But we have to wait for Mazaar first as we are unfamiliar with this area, he will be arriving from camp Delta in a while.” Their commander, which they respectfully called Ustaad, explained.
They had camped here only fifteen days ago.
X X X
Beebarg was a handsome, well-built, tall boy in his early twenties. His thick eyebrows joined in center above his nose and His skin color was dark, mostly because of the harsh hot weather of a terrain where He was living since last eleven months.
He was one of the two sons of a rich family; His father owned a car show room in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan.
His father admitted him in the best school of town soon after their arrival in Quetta. Their family had left their hometown, the coastal city of Gwadar mainly for the studies of their children.
Beebarg, along with his younger brother and sister, went to school in a new car almost every month. A new car for them was not a problem as their father used to sell and purchase new and used cars. But this fact was not known to his class-fellows who were jealous of their friend’s unending wealth. In fact that was the reason he came in a new car that frequently.
After passing high schools, He was enrolled in a nice college because of his influential father’s contacts. It was there that he became friends with Qamber and his political friends. Qamber was one bright student in the class who had a very sound knowledge of local as well as international politics. Here Beebarg, for the first time, listened the words “Occupied Balochistan”, “Socialism” and “Students Organization” from Qamber.
Qamber had a charismatic personality, enough to impress any student or teacher. For the next one and half year Qamber, Beebarg and their friends conducted various study circles where mostly Qamber read different papers about revolutions of the world for his friends. The stubborn, show-off, rich Beebarg was now a polite sober young boy who spent most of his time reading books lent to him by Qamber.
The political situation in Balochistan was changing at a fast pace. An armed organization had claimed credit for various bomb attacks targeting state forces. Various security pickets and checkpoints were installed on busy roads where stop and search were routines.
Beebarg felt these acts by state forces were discriminatory; only members belonging to a particular ethnic group were searched and the behavior of state forces was not polite at all.
Local newspapers started reporting about abduction of activists.
Beebarg could see the families of missing persons observing hunger strikes in front of press clubs. He could feel the subjugation and oppression his people were experiencing everyday.
But the incident was yet to come which would change his life forever.
“Qamber has been abducted from his house by state agencies last night, the police has refused to file an FIR,” said Naeem, his college friend, in one breath.
For the next one-year Beebarg and his friends protested in front of offices of various Human Rights Organizations and Press clubs. But no one was mightier than state secret agencies. No one knew where Qamber was and in what condition.
After a long one year Beebarg received a text from his friend, which read “The mutilated and tortured dead-body of Qamber has been found from a road-side.” Another son of soil was killed as a result of Pakistan’s secret dirty war against people who had risen for their rights.
It didn’t take him much time to join an armed militant organization, which was now a full-fledged small army defending the poor people against a powerful state force.
X X X
Meerain was a thin man living the twenty-eighth year of his life. He had lived most of his life in poverty unlike his cousin who had left the fisherman village of Gwadar twenty years ago. The first few years of Meerain’s life were very tough. He lived with his mother and four sisters in two-bedroom house. The house was small but clean. His father had died in an earlier uprising but he came to know about this fact only when he was sixteen. He was told his father is working in Muscat.
He, for living, worked as a fisherman in a fishing boat of a local tribal elder. The money was very less but it was better than nothing.
The only things Meerain enjoyed were smoking weed and playing flute. He was very good in playing flute, which he had learnt, from a fisherman at his exhausting job. The only thing, which could relax them on one-month voyages, was weed.
In the Summer when sea was not in a mood to accept anyone to fish, Meerain with his friend Kabeer would leave for the mountain of Daam for hunting and to satisfy his greed for the nature.
One day while playing flute he couldn’t even notice that veiled armed persons have surrounded them.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” One of them asked in an angry voice.
“We are hunters” Meerain replied while his legs trembled.
“Don’t you know our organization has banned hunting in this whole area?” Another man asked.
“No, we had no idea” Meerain replied again.
“What is your name, your father’s name, and where are you from,” The first man asked many questions at once.
Meerain answered his questions.
“Oh, you are son of Martyr Abdul Qadir” the men replied with a polite tune this time.
Meerain nodded affirmatively…
Meerain was treated very warmly, and this resulted in his frequent visits to these rebels and not long before joining them. He had quit smoking weed now.
And there He met his cousin Beebarg who was transferred from an urban revolutionary unit to mountains by senior command.
X X X
Half of the day passed in grave tension and they could only ate boiled rice for lunch. Mazaar arrived at evening with the good news that camp Delta was not attacked.
Ustaad had already decided with Camp Delta’s commander over wireless communication that Camp Delta would engage the enemy forces in fight clearing the way for them to evacuate.
The revolutionaries, armed with rockets and AK47s, were now on the move. It was evening when they left. They could only travel few kilometers before it was dark.
The night was too dark and the clouds had already covered the whole sky. There were no more helicopters now. They thanked nature and their luck for the weather but it didn’t take them much time to lament it.
Mazaar had mistaken the decided route due to darkness and now they were heading towards nowhere.
“We are on a wrong way, Ustaad,” He said.
“But we have to move anyway, we cannot stop here,” Ustaad replied.
Suddenly the whole area lit up with light bombs fired by the enemy forces. They had in fact entered into an area very close to an enemy camp.
Heavy firing followed the bomb as enemies had spotted them. There was viscous firing from both sides.
Many bullets hit the stones in front of Beebarg, but the young man fought bravely. He and Meerain along with Ustaad were in the front rows.
“We will engage them and you start abandoning the area,” Ustaad ordered soldiers that were in the back rows.
They fought for two long hours, they were only three left behind. A bullet had hit Beebarg in his leg but he didn’t let anyone know and continued fighting.
“Should we leave now,” Meerain asked Ustaad.
“Yes, I m running out of ammunition.” Ustaad replied.
“Beebarg lets go!” Meerain shouted.
There was no reply. He shouted again but he could only listen the gunfire.
He ran towards him as fast as he could only to find that a bullet had hit Beebarg on his chest.
He was breathing his last.
“You.. cannot… carry me along.. leave before its too late,” Beebarg gathered all his energy to utter only these words.
Meerain kissed his young cousin’s forehead, picked his gun and ran back towards the mountains.
Beebarg closed his eyes recalling a famous quote, which was Qamber’s favorite.
“I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting.”