Tue. Dec 10th, 2019

The Other Side Of Bravery

It all happens in a flash.

The urgent sound of a familiar honk, dad’s SUV, thrice in quick succession.

The screech-to-a-halt of a black Toyota salon car in front of the gate.

The gunshots, double fired.

Two hefty men, faces covered with masks, rushing out the salon car on to dad’s SUV and waving a white handkerchief in his face.

The yowl that follows the clobbering with a gun on his bald head.

The shutting of his mouth with a tape.

The decelerating squirms and smothered screams as he is dragged into the salon car.

The quirk turn and acceleration of the car, zooming so quickly out of sight.

A sudden splurge of adrenalin plunges me into dad’s steering wheel. I start the car and match the throttle with all the energy I can muster. The speedometer spins from 0 to 200km.

With the salon car in sight, the chase is on.

Steadily, I close in on the assailants, narrowing the gap between us.

400 metres.

250 metres

150 metres

50 meters.

I reach out for a gun beneath the driver’s seat.

Dad is military, Airforce, he always keeps a pistol there for times like this. How he couldn’t use the weapon, I can’t fathom.

I cock my head out the window and fire a shot at the car’s back wheel.

I’d never used a gun but, luckily, I don’t miss.

I land another shot on its rear windshield, boring a hole in it.

A reprisal attack follows: a series of shots at my windshield that leave puckers all over.

I don’t balk. I keep on the chase until we we’re a yard from each other.

More shots are fired at my windshield, digging a hole in the middle and sending a shard of glass into my right arm.

I look at my bloodied arm and my countenance swiftly changes.

Poise. Urgency. Rage.

I release my full weight on the throttle and crash into the salon car with a thud.

The car is forced to a halt and the passenger doors are thrown open.

A shooting spree ensues. Constant shots are fired at my windshield by one of the men.

I slouch with my hands crossed on my head and sink below my seat.

The shooting stops and I manage to raise my head.

One of the man straggles away with my father into a bush path while his colleague follows with his back from a distance, hovering his gun from side-to-side to ward off potential threats.

My body is clad with shards of glass and my face stained with splatters of blood.

I stay a while, watching their trajectory before skulking out.

I race towards them quietly in flitted steps and in a short time, I am thirty yards away from them but they don’t realize it.

Both men now hold their guns losely as they hike their speed through the bush path.

One of them points towards a path and they veer rightward with my dad who acts weirdly cooperative.

Suddenly, they both stop. [They must have noticed my presence]

The man holding my father hits his head fiercely with the nuzzle of his gun and for all his military training, he cries through a scream.

It must have hurt him sorely. Perhaps, that criminal hit the side of his head that houses the migraine he’s been suffering for two years.

It’s the continuous clobbering with the gun that uneases my nerves and drives me crazy.

I dash out of the woods with three frenetic shots at the man hitting my dad and he drops slowly to the floor with my dad.

The other man goes on a shooting spree and I take cover behind a tree. I’m lucky not to get hit and killed by the plethora of bullets that fly past me within earshot.

The man stops shooting and stoops to check on his colleague. He finds him dead.

He taps my dad but he doesn’t move, he looks lifeless. He rolls him over and only then do I see the gash on the right side of his chest. A slew of blood has turned his grey shirt auburn.

At the sight, the assailant turns to scamper but I take him down with a one-time shot on the nape of his neck. He’s probably dead [I don’t care].

I quickly rush over to my dad, and I find him half dead; not moving, not talking, hardly breathing.

I will never have thought it possible for me — a lightweight seventeen-year-old — to carry my sixty-one year old father with the weight of a grown calf.

But I hasted through the bush path bearing the full weight of my dad in my hands, praying for a miracle.

I manage to get to the main road where I’d left his car, now thoroughly battered and without a windshield.

I reverse quickly and speed past the bushy parts into the main town, looking out for a hospital or clinic.

I spot the signpost of a private hospital two miles ahead and veer into the street.

I rush dad to the accident and emergency ward with the aid of a gurney and we’re welcomed by a matron accosted by two nurses.

She examines the bloodied body briefly then, turns to me and says,

“Bullet wound?” I nod, affirmatively.

“Do you have a police report?”

“Police what?…”

“Police report, I said. Without it, there’s nothing I can do.”

I’ve never heard of a police report and I don’t know what it means. I try to beg her to help him regardless; that he is a high-ranking military officer, an Airforce Captain, but she won’t even listen to me. She hushes me with a wave of the hand.

“Young man, this is a registered hospital and we work by government rules. I don’t want to enter any trouble, please.” she says matter-of-factly, and leaves.

I drop to my knees beside my dying father and pray for a miracle.

He had once told me that survival in the battlefield was down to expertise, luck and a miracle.

Having acted expertly clamping down on the kidnappers to rescue my father, and gotten lucky to have missed death by the scruff of the neck, all I can hope for now is a miracle.

But, it never comes.

Dad dies right before my eyes. Before the eyes of two nurses that don’t give a middle finger. “Just another death” It must be to them.

I should rush back to the car, pick up dad’s pistol and send three bullets into the matron’s sick skull but I’m too weak to weal.

I’m weakened by reality; a stone-cold reality that will haunt me forever: an indelible reminder that it was me who took the shot that killed my father.

And, after soaking myself in a pool of my own tears, stretched over dad’s corpse, I will come to terms with the fact that bravery is but a curator’s egg. So, I’ll spend the rest of my life explaining to my inner demons how I killed, but did not murder my father.

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