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(Sequel to my earlier post The Hawk Eye)
As I hear the ominous sound of the bullet shattering the skull, my mind sinks into the depths of despair. And as I witness the powerful explosion in the National Library building, I know that my misery is complete. I sink to the ground and move towards the corpse of the man who was my God. I look at the awe-inspiring figure and try in vain to tell him, “I did warn you.” What left for me now, I wonder. There’s no family left. For I am Afsal Nadeem, the unfortunate younger brother of Azhar ‘The Hawk’ Nadeem and the son of General Aksan Nadeem.
As I put the head of my father into my lap, my thoughts automatically drift to my brother.
Oh Azhar, you were the apple of our father’s eye. He loved you from the moment you opened your eyes. Did you ever remember the day he taught us to use a gun? He had taken us to the mountains and placed dummy birds on top of the trees for us to practise. You had hit the target with your very first shot. He had embraced you and had pinned his medal of honour on your uniform telling, “One day, you too will earn this.” Oh my brother, ever since that day you have been my hero.
Our father always wanted to make the best use of your talents. That is why he sent to you to the mercenary camp in Russia even though it pained him to part with you. Almost daily he tried to console me, “Don’t you worry, your brother will return as the sharpest shooter in the whole of Kazakhstan” and I smiled in acknowledgement though it was not me who needed the consoling. And dear brother, you did not know that both of us had come to Russia to see your final shooting session. Even though our father was putting his life at risk by travelling through the Kurd zones, he was not going to miss your ‘graduation’. And as you shot a perfect score my brother, I smiled as I watched his face swell up with pride.
The times were tumultuous when you returned and our motherland was about to be invaded by the Soviets. Our father always put our nation before anything else. That is why even though it pained him, he ordered you to carry out the execution of the leaders of the movement. He knew it was necessary to avoid an open war. And war was never a solution for him. As you earned the repute of the entire nation for your success, did you know that it was our father who nicknamed you ‘The Hawk’ and me ‘The Owl’ for my shy but fiercely loyal nature?
But I fear our father erred in one thing. He never told you the true stories of our ethnic strife. He wanted to keep you out of the dirty politics of our land. When he decided to assassinate the Kurd leader, I begged him to tell you the complete history but he never complied. Dear brother, our mother did not die giving birth to me as you had been told. She was brutally hacked to death by these blood-thirsty savages led by their brute leader. Our noble father did not seek revenge as he knew that it would lead to a civil war. He revolted only when the news of the Kurds using child soldiers reached him. I am sure that you did not notice the child who handed you the note from the Kurd butcher garnishing a gun.
The Kurds were much more cunning than we ever imagined. They knew that you were our father’s only weakness and exploited it fully. They lured you into their trap using the leader’s daughter. She poisoned your mind with pretentious love and to our great dismay, you believed her completely. My brother, her sweet smile concealed the face of a seasoned killer. If only you had bothered to enquire, you would have come to know that she already had a husband. The Kurd leader cleverly intercepted all our letters and messengers to you and slowly turned you against your own race.
Finally our father ordered our men to fetch you from the village by waging a full military strike if need be. Even before they could talk to you, the Kurds opened fire and they had to retaliate. The Kurds fought till the last man and the entire village had to be burnt to stop them killing our men. But they did not find you there and lay in waiting. My brother, the boy found you first before they could as he knew the terrain better. You were a changed man after reading the note and murdered our men who had come to inform you the matters. You ran away, choosing to believe the million lies the Kurds told you. Our father had not ordered any minority massacre, but in fact had made a non-aggression pact with the Uzbeks and the Tatars.
My dear brother, did you seriously believe that you could live for so long if our father wanted you dead? He who had the might to burn the entire nation at his disposal. He loved you so and believed that you would come back to him. He also had your file altered to reflect that you were Missing In Action after waging a war against murderous Kurds, so that our people would never see you as a traitor. Yet you so naively mistook his greatness for brutality.
When you took the shot today my brother, you did not put an end to war as you hoped. Instead you just put to death the last hope of peace.
My thoughts are interrupted as my uncle raises me. I stare into his eyes and know what he has to say. That I have to be strong now and that I have to lead my people. I am drenched in my father’s blood. And on it, I promise that I will avenge him. I will hunt down every one of those savages and soak these lands with their blood. I will reclaim my violent nation and transform it into a safe haven for my people. My father’s martyrdom will not be in vain.
As I raise my gun to give the customary guard of honour to the man who taught me to use one, my hand remains absolutely steady.
Glory to the martyrs. Glory to Kazakhstan. Long Live the Revolution.