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The Soundtrack Of My Childhood

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A sea of people, of all ages and ethnicities, were herded into the square like panicked animals. I clasped my mothers’ hand so tightly my knuckles shone white, so as not to lose her in the hustle and bustle of people. Not even the most sinister thoughts of my imagination could’ve predicted this day; the complete and utter unawareness of my innocence being ripped away from me as life was alienated. In the square, the tone was nervous and hushed, despite being a naive child I could tell something was not right. Close by, my mother and I could hear the deliberations, the taunts of those who feel better by hurting others. In the half-light of the breaking day the soldiers stand intimidatingly around us, holding their rifles. Each face is emotionless, not a trace of any expression to reveal an intention of the pain they were about to inflict on this town.

The commander barked an order to his soldiers. Suddenly, an unbroken deluge of bullets jolted me out of my thoughts and were released into the heart of the square eager to obliterate life. With each intermitted shot, a life was lost. A vicious wind crept by like an unwelcome thought as gunshots flew through the hubbub of chaos as widespread panic of screams and commotion erupted while masses of scared and confused faces overwhelmed me.My mother grabbed my arm with brute force and shoved me behind an almost-demolished upturned cart to ensure I wasn’t noticed by the inhumane soldiers. She was sacrificing herself to save me. The bullet, a silent killer in the air, oblivious to its purpose flew towards my mother. It struck her temple recoiling her body and forcing her head to whip back and forth violently as her body crumpled and gave way in front of me like a balloon released it’s life. My breath came in ragged, shallow gasps. She was dead. The deafening silence of realisation broke all my thoughts. Adrenalin coursed through my veins like a carp through a river. But I couldn’t move a single muscle. Not even to scream for the enormity of my grief.The absolute horror had completely paralysed me, preventing me from responding to my mothers’ last act of love. Black filled the edges of my vision and the only thing I could hear was my own heartbeat. The smell of the sickeningly wet, metallic blood smothered my other senses and started to suffocate my breath.Waves of intense grief swept over me and tension hung like a dark impenetrable cloud for the approaching future. A tragic realisation of a new disturbing reality which arrived uninvited frightened me. Profound anger boiled deep in my system, as hot as lava towards the soldiers. Now every nerve in my body seemed like a strained harp-string ready to snap at a touch. Hiding beneath the battered cart, each second submerged in fear made a permanent mark on my heart, which was pounding rapidly causing a nonstop earthquake in my chest. Until my instinct for survival took over me. I knew I had to protect myself, otherwise my mother’s sacrifice was meaningless. That’s when I heard the footsteps. Each one chaotically placed, echoing sharply around the broken square sounding overly loud in my own ears, like the booming heartbeat of a condemned prisoner. Any last cries or moans of pain and suffering were swiftly silenced. Starved for air, my heart raced at tremendous speeds. I closed my eyes, playing dead, and wishing I was.

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There was a time when at least the ones pulling the trigger might have felt something; remorse, guilt, compassion? Not anymore.The trucks full of the heartless, emotionless and merciless soldiers departed, leaving the town devastated and lifeless. The satisfaction of security was nothing but a distant memory, haunting me like the memory of some former happiness. The silence became poisonous in it’s nothingness. My traumatised body instinctively crawled towards my dear mother seeking reassurance.My gentle pure hand reached for her lukewarm limp hand. I drew it in towards me, wafting in her familiar scent as I lay next to her, seeking comfort which was not forsaken. As seconds ticked by, I could feel her body become more frigid and cold. I drifted off into a trouble, nightmarish, haunting state of oblivion.I awoke to a kind hand, picking up my body which was like a shell devoid of all emotions and life. I cared not what was going to happen to me.…I returned back to the square, 30 years later. Fireworks burst through the dark night, fiery blooms amongst the stars. The sharp and pungent smell left a metallic flavour on the roof of my mouth, a haunting reminder of that day.The day that my innocence was stolen from me, aged eight. The day I saw the best and the worse of humanity, evoking the kind of sadness that seeps into my bones, the kind of desolate sobbing that comes from being drained of all hope from the world. That day was the soundtrack of my childhood.


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