And then they were upon us.
Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of men armed with guns, descended upon the screaming crowd.
The echoes of shots filled the air. Everyone fell silent. And the screaming began.
Shouts of pain, filled with the agony of bits of metal ripping your skin to shreds, as they drew blood and hit bone.
There was chaos.
We were shoved, trampled, beaten and shot at.
In the distance, I heard a young girl cry, “Mummy! Mummy!”
And then I heard her no more as another round of gunfire filled the air.
Everyone was running now, pushing each other aside in their desperate attempt to escape death.
How had it all come to this?
All around me, people were shouting. For friends, family members, loved ones.
The futility of it all hit me just then.
There was no point.
When you are small, you WILL be stepped on. By the powerful, the rich, the mighty.
Resistance was fruitless. In the end, you find yourself in a crowd of millions, screaming and jostling for your voice to be heard, but nothing happens. Nothing ever does.
Because alone, you are nothing.
Even together, you are nothing.
For these people have the power of might on their side.
Guns; bombs; the police; even the army had turned out.
Who are we in their onslaught?
Just animals for slaughter, waiting in line for the axe to come crashing down.
And then it would all be over.
The fight. The dissent. The hope.
The blood of the people flowed like a river that day.
Past the broken windows, the fallen trees, the abandoned cars.
And of course, the dead.
Countless bodies fill the streets in our wake, some unrecognizable, torn to pieces by the crowd.
I looked back, and saw the victors standing in line. Watching us go. High-fiving.
And I thought, hey, what more do I have to lose?
Not my property.
Not my dignity.
Not my liberty.
They were all gone, never actually mine in the first place.
And I turned around.
Walked back towards the men in green, who were oblivious of my change in direction.
Behind me, I could feel the crowd pulling further and further away. I was alone.
But still I went on. They had seen me now. A lone stranger, walking slowly, step by step, towards the sea of green and blue.
My feet splashed through the sticky pools of blood; stepping over the mounds that had once been living, breathing human beings.
One by one, they raised their gun, with one obvious target.
And I walked on. Up until the muzzle lay upon my torn, bloodied shirt.
I looked up, and saw a man.
A man like any other, with creases upon his face, sweat dripping from his brow, bits of stubble around his lips.
I might’ve known this guy. We could’ve walked past each other every day to work without noticing the other’s presence.
And yet here we are. On opposite sides of the battlefield. The fate of one in the hands of the other.
But I felt no fear. Only pity.
Pity for one who so easily allowed his mind to be swayed.
Pity for one who chose to turn a blind eye to everything.
Pity for one who never had an opinion of his own.
But what difference does it make?
In the end, we are all mortals. Born innocent, divided by the corruptive influence of power and wealth.
Had I been in his shoes, would I have made the same decision?
Had I grown up my entire life exposed to endless propaganda, would I have turned into a mindless minion like this man before me?
Perhaps, I might. After all, who am I to judge?
We all make mistakes in life. Just how costly they are, we discover only too late.
I looked deep into his eyes.
And saw myself, reflected within those viridian pupils.
In the right circumstances, we could’ve traded places. The gun in my hand, pointed straight at his chest.
Ah, the many quirks and fancies of fate!
Slowly, I reached up and placed my hand upon the barrel.
His face twitched slightly, but he never moved.
Gently, I pushed the muzzle aside, so that it was no longer pointing at me.
“We must end this now!”
“Fight with us!”
“Together, we are strong!”
All those words, spoken with such passion, were now nothing; simply words. Worthless, useless echoes of loss and desolation.
No matter how much you are led to believe in something, there comes a point where you no longer care.
A point where nothing matters anymore.
Save the lives of the ones that you love most.
It’s over, I whispered gently.
Slowly, he lowered his gun, and finally dropped it upon the ashen ground.
I held out my arms and he fell into them. Sobbing bitterly.
Without realising, it, my own tears were falling.
Around us, guns were being lowered. Policemen and army men alike, all simply stood and stared at the destruction they’ve wreaked. They’ve won, but at what cost?
In the midst of it all, we remained in each others’ arms. Crying.
Yes, it was truly over.
Jern Siong views the world in a million shades of gray, constantly wondering how some people could draw the lines between black and white so seamlessly.
Image taken from the Facebook page of the Italian Revolution.