The Freedom Fighter

1 December 2011

In case you die and they don’t know whose side you are on, you have an identity card that states your distinguishing features, like the mole on your neck. At night you and your friends smoke hashish and then jump in the soft snow. Your father mines opals in the mountains near you, and eventually you will go blow up mountains with him. You told me once that you had witnessed the death of your friend’s family as they were fired upon by the enemy across the mountains. Now as we travel through the snow engulfed valley, I look out the window of the Jeep and try to spot the enemy, but all I see is a land divided into bare trees and great valleys. My father patrols the edges of our conversations and we move further apart. You talk about blowing up mountains and offer me a shot of brandy, but I am terrified I might get caught. You keep a rifle under the driver’s seat and your pashmina round your shoulders. I see the swollen scar of a bullet wound on your forearm. I see a thick silver necklace adorned with coins and lapis lazuli in a roadside shop and beg my father for the money to buy it. But my father ignores me and vanishes in the street. You appear moments later with the necklace and hand it to me. Later when I leave those mountains, a parcel arrives for me in Karachi, and in it are two silver pens. No one makes a comment about them and I say nothing. In the afternoon before I catch my plane back to Australia, I hide them under the empty rabbit hutch on the rooftop.

 


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