As the rounded Sun trekked up to the mountain top, the friendly rooster synced his wake up calls with the melodious warble of the morning birds. “Shakur! Wake up, it’s time to milk the cows”, called out mother.
Passu, a small mountain village nestled in the picturesque mountains of Gilgit Baltistan, was untouched by the outside world. With no roads or electricity, Shakur’s life as a shepherd was no different than his forefathers. A naïve simpleton, Shakur had never stepped out of his village boundary.
As the mid-noon sky warmed up, Shakur headed off with his herd.
Oh! How he loved his work!
Lying on the soft mountain grass, Shakur used up his scanty, ill-used grey cells, to find some odd shapes out of the scattered, floating clouds in the azure mountain sky. Dimwit, unworldly Shakur had never been to school but did use arithmetic successfully by counting his sheep every day.
Oh! What freedom!
Shakur could never trade off his freedom for anything. He was free, his sheep were free and everything around him smelled of freedom and completeness.
Who would have the courage to cage the unfettered, free-spirited mountain breeze?
Who could ask the towering pines, to bend their ways?
His sheep made the choicest pick of the juiciest grass on whichever mountain they fancied. Freedom echoed through the vast valleys and green meadows of his homeland.
Shakur, could not sleep the whole night as early morning he was going to the big city with Abu to attend a wedding. After a long walk of 10 KM, they finally hitched a ride on a rickety bus. Shakur imbued every sound and smell around him.
The bus halted mid-way, at a tea stall. Shakur dumbfounded stared at the portable TV perched on the tree, running an independent Pakistani channel. After the initial excitement of seeing a TV had subsided, Shakur tuned his ears to the passionate debate being aired.
Flags of India, Pakistan, and China flashed on the TV screen. He would have never recognized them, if they did not name them aloud. The panelists fervently argued about the injustice meted out to local people. They said that Gilgit Baltistan was an Indian territory, forcefully controlled by Pakistan and faced increased economic interference by China. Pakistan had exploited, betrayed and leased off land to China and systematically colonized causing religious conflict between Shia and Sunni. Though governed by Pakistan, yet Gilgit people did not enjoy any democratic rights in Pakistan or India and were not free.
Shakur was aghast!
So much information load on his unused intellect. His brain was running a sprint race, without even a preparatory warm-up session. Abu and the elders sounded worried and agitated too. Sipping on his cup of tea, Shakur, thanked his stars for not having the bad mouth TV in his village.
Stunned by the revelation, Shakur yearned to return home so no one could tell him on his face that the freedom he cherished every day was just a lie.
Photo By: Patrick Schneider
This is an entry for #TheLie #Five00-8, a room8 writing event –in 500 words.
Check out the event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/room8/thelie
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