I wanted to make my own decision and at this moment, it is vital that I do. Two gunned men stepped out of the house, which meant that there could be more than just the two of them. I squatted back behind the car that’s covering us. My friend Colonel Senevirathne’s hand rested on my knee.
“What shall we do?” his voice was shaking. His trouser was soaked with blood, a bullet pierced through his shin. Wondering what to say, I look into his painful eyes, and knew that he wasn’t going to hold up for long.
“We have to move fast. Activate code red. The others won’t be here yet.”
His eyes widened hearing my response. Yes, it is a suicide mission.
I took out the crumpled paper from my chest pocket. With shaking fingers, unfolded it with care. The edges were torn, and white lines ran across the paper from where it was folded, because of the constant openings. Luckily, the picture wasn’t damaged. The one and only picture I have of my family. My beautiful wife and son. Gently caressing my wife’s face, I thought of all the joyous days I spent in her arms. I looked up to see Colonel Senevirathne staring at me with widened eyes, probably wondering where the family picture came from.
“I sneaked it in. Nobody saw it.” I whispered.
I felt as if the time has come for me to risk it all, for me to forget them, for a while.
“No matter what, WE ARE HERE FOR THE COUNTRY. We are standing up for the innocent, to save our motherland and its people from passing strangers. My boys, when the time comes this is what you should think.” The General’s voice echoed in my head.
With a deep breath I picked up my gun, “NOW” I mouthed.
Pointing my gun at all the men outside, I released my bullets one after the other. Amidst the shooting I ran forward, within seconds I was able to make it into the house. The hostage should be upstairs. I thought, climbing the stairs.
On the second floor, I see two gunmen running towards me. Aiming right at their heads I pull the trigger over and over again till I heard their bodies thudding to the floor.
I ran to the nearest room hoping to find the child there. I looked around in agitation. ‘Maybe another room’. I turned around to leave the room when I saw something move behind the window.
‘The balcony! I completely forgot.’ Quickly I opened the door, the child was there.
Small bruises covered his face, tears streaming down his cheeks. Grabbing him from the waist, I lifted him up.
“Daddy… Daddy…” The child went on sobbing.
“It’s alright. I’ll take you to your dad.” I patted him on his back. It seemed stupid to go back to the front door. There must be more terrorists around.
The fire escape looked old and rusty, but I had no choice. I got down as quickly as I could. I heard voices from within the house, shouting in a language I couldn’t understand. They are coming.
I hurried my steps. The forest is nearby, I ran towards it. Disappearing into the trees, I ran as fast as I could. The thorny bushes scraped my skin, I tightened my arms around the boy, so that he wouldn’t get hurt.
I felt them running behind me, their voices filled my ears. Suddenly my left leg went numb, and I knew I was shot.
The pain was unbelievable and I felt another bullet piercing into my back. I heard myself cry out in pain, but I didn’t stop running.
Earlier yesterday when the minister’s car appeared in the camp, I never thought this was going to happen soon after. The minister’s wife didn’t get down from the Mercedes because she couldn’t stop crying.
I remembered Colonel Senevirathne jokingly recited the rumors of about how the minister came into possession of this car and soon regretting his jokes after seeing the minister wiping his tears with the back of his hand.
The boy was holding tightly onto my collar, his face hidden in my chest, and I hear him whisper “daddy.”
Somewhere far away from this forest, my son was calling me. I felt him tugging my collar, sweetly resting his face on my chest. Out of nowhere, I felt energy rushing into my veins, pushing me forward.
As I took a few more steps, I realized that my fellow troops have arrived.
I heard them shooting at those who were following me. Once I knew the ground was safe, I felt my knees giving up, making me fall. Holding the boy to my chest, I lied down. Someone came running, “hey! hey!” I heard him calling, but had no strength to open my eyes. They took the boy away from me, and I kept still without moving.
“Operation 52. success. Minister’s son is saved. over.” Somebody was informing the headquarters.
Tears streamed down my face as they lift me up and put me down on a stretcher.
“Oh, Dear God,
protect my son at all cost,
for I will be there no more.
Yet one last thing,
don’t let him forget me.
Make him proud of me.
It’s all up to you now.
you abandoned a child in danger
whom I saved.
so, here’s the deal.
Don’t ever do that to my son.”
Calling up to the God, I closed my eyes tightly, letting the darkness embrace me.
– Rtr. Dinithi Athulathmudali
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