Saturday, 27 December 2008

"Come forward, my sons," said the old master, "Come tell me what you see."
The first young man in line stepped forward and scrutinised his surroundings.
"I see crowds of people, an unguarded entrance, an express train drawing into station. I see you, my master, and my brothers standing beside me. I see two coolies haggling, an overweight stationmaster, a shop selling newspapers and lemonade, an abandoned luggage trolley, a queue at the ticket counter- "
"Stop," said the master. "You see too much and not enough."
The young man fell back, confused, and his brother came up to take his place. "Tell me, son," said the master again, "What do you see?"
The second young man took a deep breath and began. "I see a great city, awash with light and rich with commerce. I see its giant throbbing heart, fed off the lifeblood of the peasants and the sweat of the poor. I see exploitation in every mighty building, and I see the greed of the oppressors who have denied us for too long- "
"Enough," said the master. "You are not yet ready."
The young man looked as if he was about to protest, but the third brother had already run forward eagerly.
"Well," said the master, "What is it that you see?"
The third brother spoke, and his voice was shaking. "I see infidels and traitors, idolaters and heathens. I see the filthy foreign dogs who have murdered our brothers, raped our sisters, and invaded our motherland. I see those who hate us, those who persecute us, those who would kill us. They are the enemy..."
"I see," said the master, "that so far you have learnt nothing."
The young man stopped, stunned, then spat angrily upon the ground and turned away.
"Do you see anything different?" said the master to the fourth brother.
The fourth brother hesitated, then spoke softly. "I see... a young executive calling up his wife to say he'll be late... I see a group of girls out on their first college trip... I see a shoeshine boy counting out coins to buy a cup of tea... I see a family travelling to a hard-earned vacation, though they only have second-class seats. There is a child with a red balloon..."
He stopped short, embarrassed. He was the youngest in the group.
"I see," said the master, more gently than before. "This work is not meant for you."
Then the last young man in line stepped forward and the master repeated his question. "And you, what is it that you see?"
The fifth brother looked his teacher in the eye and replied, "I see my target. Nothing else except my target."
"Nothing else?" persisted the master, "You don't see their different histories, their social backgrounds? You don't see their faiths or their nationalities, their prejudices and their flaws? Do you not see each as a representative of the greater system, a symbol of a greater evil? Do you not see the different faces or the different names, the men who rule them or the gods they bow before?"
The young man's face remained impassive as he shook his head. "I see nothing but my target," he said quietly, "And I know what I must do."
The master was satisfied. "Go then," he said. "Shoot."
His brothers stood watching, disbelieving, full of awe. The young warrior, his pale cheeks faintly flushed with triumph and a hard glitter in his eyes, walked forward a few steps, raised his weapon, and took aim.
At the other end of the platform, the child with the red balloon had begun to scream...


joey said...

bulls eye.

Excitingly good.

Dhrubo said...

Very very powerful.

blinknmiss said...


now this is the kind of feeling to sustain me through the next three weeks.

full tilt said...

that's good. really really.

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

dulki told me about your blog. am going to stalk you now.

Death On Two Legs said...

When a blogpost gives you goosebumps, you know it's something special.

SPIRITed! said...

Whoa woman.

spriblah said...

Wow, wow, wow.
When I started reading it, it seemed like the tale from the Mahabharata but after reading I feel Ved Vyas left out a great deal.

Ms. Brightside said...

whooooo....scary-ly brilliant...i noe thats not a phrase (yet)