While walking through some bushes, I heard a rustle behind me. I pulled out the pistol tucked into my waistband and looked around. It was quiet except for the sporadic gunfire in the distance. I realized that the rustling came from some thick bushes ahead. I walked in that direction, my fingers tightly wrapped around the pistol. Before I got to the bushes, a deadly scent filled the air. I wanted to stop walking because I knew deep down what I would find. Still I continued, my heart pounding hard, causing my vision to be blurry. My mother always said I was too bloody inquisitive. I parted the bushes, my eyes closed at first. Even though I saw what I expected, I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. There was a body lying on the ground, its green uniform, brown with dried blood. I stared at it as an army of nature’s scavengers helped themselves to the rotting flesh that was left. I stood there horrified, my heart racing, my body tingling. It was as if I was waiting for something to happen. I closed my eyes, I guess I was trying to see myself in that man’s place.
Bob Marley lyrics exploded in my head, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our minds”. I swallowed hard, trying to stop myself from throwing up. Then another quote ran through my mind. It was the Karl Marx statement “Everyone is a victim of the system.” I wanted to be that body, feel free, no political system to tell me what to do, no religion to watch my every move. At that moment, feeling nothing would have been like paradise. Another Bob Marley lyric came to mind “If you know what life is worth then you will look for yours on earth”. I was not about to die to attain the freedom I seek. I had to stand up and fight for the life that I wanted. That moment was like becoming born again, a born again human being.
I was jolted back to reality when a helicopter swooped in and hovered over the bushes. I pointed the pistol at it, my hand shaking, beads of sweat rolling down my forehead, settling in my eyes. I wiped the salty liquid off and kept looking up. I was afraid they might have seen me; I was prepared to defend myself. The mosquito-like machine glided towards the hills on the other side and opened fire. Leaves and dust flew into the air, soldiers shouted, and birds flew from the chaos. I took the opportunity to run in the opposite direction. AK-47 rifles barked angrily as pockets of the local army fought back. I ran until I reached the dusty highway and I stopped to catch my breath, my chest burning. I realized I was still holding the pistol and tucked it into my waistband. The shooting stopped, and the helicopter whizzed by, its rotors creating a whirlwind of dust. I went home and sat in a chair on the verandah, my heart still racing. I got up, took out the pistol and looked at it. I placed it, along with an AK-47 and a couple of other guns, in a can that used to hold Lard, filled it with grease, dug a hole, and buried it next to a Paw Paw tree. That was the last time I held a gun, forever elevating the false sense of safety I once felt.