Short Stories 73 — Ethos of Man (Part 13)
The doctor patched us up. Arthen had few cuts that were stitched. And I had a broken nose and few cuts on the face. To be honest, we were badly beaten. Whether with a sword or with meer hands. The doctor left after giving us the medicine. But Beth was upset. She looked unhappy. “Both of you can rest for today. But tomorrow you go home. Meanwhile, I will send someone to tell the news to your mothers, so they don’t get worked up.” And she left.
Both of us were in the same room. And as soon as she left, I asked Artheen, “What had happened to you back then.? I have never seen you so angry before. It seemed as if you weren't… you.” Arthen turned facing the wall and said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
What was it that was bothering him? We have been friends since we were two or three. We have literally grown up together. And because of that, we know most of the things about each other. So what was this thing that he didn’t want to share?
“If it is something you don’t want to share then it is fine. But do let me know if you want anything? I am there for you Arthen.” He looked back at me, nodded, and went to his prior position. I kept thinking about this beating. But my eyes were feeling heavy. And I don’t remember when did I fall asleep.
Woke up in the morning. Arthen was still asleep. My face was hurting. It was wrapped in a bandage. I looked at Arthen and he was still sleeping. “Arthen wake up.” But I could barely open my mouth to speak. The medicine had worn off. I did not realize it, but I had a few missing teeth.
I just slept there. Thinking, I do have a long road ahead of me. He did not seem that strong. It wasn’t that we lost like this. But I discreetly remember. I had an opportunity to stab him. I had the opening. His back was against me. I could have gone for his neck. And he couldn’t have done anything. Yet I couldn’t. It felt wrong. To kill someone. To take the life of another human felt very wrong. How can one do such a thing?
What stopped me. Do I not have the courage to kill another person. But it is something that will be part of the war. That is the exact reason we will be deployed. That will be our job. And what if I can’t kill anyone on the battlefield. I am sure others won't think twice. That man was ready to kill me at that moment. Of course, one would choose his own life over others. What if I did not do anything at that moment. Arthen would have been killed. But after that would I have raised my sword to kill him. I guess once you lose what you care for after that raising the sword is just futile. So is that the reason one raises his sword, for oneself and those around you.