A Fiction
by
Vani Venkatesan

John Xi, a Chinese national badminton player, struck and wounded two policemen who intruded into his girlfriend's home. Fearing for the injustice the system might impose on him, he had to run. In the flight, he met a mysterious fugitive, who deeply involved in the corruption charges of some high-ranked officials.
If you feel that the story does not make sense, it is because it resembles the reality too closely.


Chapter 4

Yellow Bird

......................................

    "Sitting in the dusking room, I was grief-stricken. Waves of dismaying emotions flooded through me like a ferocious tsunami slamming a small coastal village. I wished a thunderbolt would strike me to end all my sorrow.
    I felt completely hopeless. Hope brings fear. When hope vanishes, so does fear.
    Gradually I calmed down just as the tsunami receded from the coast. I prayed to Heaven and fell asleep. The rest refreshed myself, my body, my mind, and my spirit. I conceived a fabulous plan to free myself."
    .................................
    She slightly turned her head, staring at the distant mountains. Her calm demeanor had grown taut, and her expressionless face began to show emotions of fear, sadness and hope.
    ``There were two men guarding the room but most of the time only one guard was watching. I bribed them," she said, voice slightly trembling, ``with huge bribes, one by one."
    ............
    She slightly frowned, a sign of feeling annoyed, but she answered, ``The first guard, a middle-aged man, took the bribe right away. He promised to turn a blind eye to my escape if the other guard let me go.
    However, the second guard, a newly wed young man, rejected my offer. Feeling embarrassed, shameful, and hopeless, I collapsed on the floor." Her eyes grew wet as she spoke.
    She paused for a few moments and continued: ``The guard came over to help me sit up on the ground. I cowered against a wall, wrapping my legs with my arms, and burying my head between my knees. I sobbed uncontrollably, and the guard stood a few feet in front of me, watching me silently. Raising my head, I gazed at him with both eyes overflowed with tears.
    Then to my own surprise, softly, amid my grief and shame, moved by what emotion in my heart I could not tell, I began to sing.
    My voice, the voice of a forlorn and pitiful girl that no one listened, was quavering but clear and vivid."
    Her description shook John's body and mind. ``What was the song you sang?" asked John.

................................

Near the Border

    He felt a cloud of pain pass over him, and had a sensation of entering a grave, falling into the hell, a different world consisting of multi-level cells. He saw stars densely populated over the sky. But the stars were black---black stars hanging in a grey sky.
    Down and down he fell, plunging into the abyss of darkness, beyond light and knowledge. Far, far beyond the deepest delving of humans, the world was gnawed by unknown creatures, which were contorted, twisted and rippled. He fell through the hell level by level. For each level he fell, he heard more painful and pitiful cries, and under dim light he saw horrible torture tools---rat cages, tiger chairs, death bed and red hot irons---the tools he vaguely read about in books but now vividly appeared in his field of view. His heart was wrung with fear and pity.
    The torture got worse and worse, crueler and more inhumane the deeper he descended. When John fell to the lowest level, he saw piles of rubble everywhere, small flames burning here and there, and a ditch packed with dead bodies, half buried upside down, their legs protruding out of the earth. Smoke and stench filled the air. Horribly, many small cages, about three feet tall, were mounted on top of groups of four legs. Each of the cages locked up a prisoner who was still alive, stretching an arm out of the cage, as if beckoning for help. John gave little heed to the wreckage and the dead but the imprisonment of live humans in cramped space shocked him. One of the cages caught his attention. He gazed at the prisoner inside and instantly felt a chill. Shivering and trembling, he felt as if a sharp knife was jabbing at his heart and he uttered a loud cry: ``Dad!" Sitting inside the cage with legs folded, his father said solemnly, ``My beloved son, this raging inferno has no room for you! Injustice and suppression drove us underground, and exiled us to this gloomy labor camp where contorted souls are confined but our spirit will seek and find justice from deep within the earth. You are the one who carries our spirit. For the love of all who love you, you must return to the rustic world!"

..........................

    John easily crawled through the fence hole when the guard reached there. He smiled and bowed to the guard respectfully before he turned around and continued his journey.
    Full of hope and full of joy, he wasted no time to move on. Brushing his way through bush and herb, he found a trail in front of him. He ran on the trail, climbing up the mountain.
    He had started his journey with all his anguish, the sorrow of his separation from Pearl, and the pangs of his parent's death. Through struggle, endeavor and hardship he prevailed and came to this green mountain, which reverberated with his voice of justice and his yearning for freedom. He felt as if something was leaving him, like a caterpillar shedding its cocoon. Suddenly, all the pangs he suffered for years, the stress he endured, the fear he encountered, and the despair he borne to the brink of death all extinguished and vanished into the thin air.
    It was the same green mountain, the same white clouds and the same blue sky he was under a while ago. But the world itself, being in and around him had been profoundly transformed.
    He was deeply joyous, his heart enthralled. He saw colorful flowers, green trees, brown rocks, white clouds, distant sky pale and blue, and silvery willows fluttering softly in the wind, all beautiful and enchanting. He heard birds sing, bees hum, goats bleat, and streams rush; they sounded like the songs of Heaven, forming many melodies and many rhythms.
    All this, diverse and variegated in color, had always been there; the birds had always sung, the bees had hummed, and flowers had boomed. But before, all this had been veiled by his heavy heart and distressful mind. He saw and heard but did not sense them. For the first time in many years, his liberated eyes contemplated the world around him. It seemed ages since the world had looked so beautiful, innocent and undismayed. He could see both far and deep and he could see with immense clarity everything, and everything in the world was in proclaimed order and as clear as the blue sky after rain. He could see how his parents had died and yet still lived.
    He ran on and on, tirelessly and swiftly, needing no urging or guidance. He ran through grassy terraces, creeping through a densely wooded forest, crossing a glimmering stream, going down and up a valley, climbing over a big boulder, and passing through a hollow and a grove. He was running in a new world, a world he had dreamed of since the death of his parents, and was seeking his path in life. Everything was perfectly new again, mysterious and promising. He no longer felt himself as a stranger, a fugitive and an outlaw but as a kid light in heart, thinking of nothing, desiring nothing, enjoying the enchanting present in the friendly surroundings. He felt as if the flight was not an exile but a homecoming. This foreign land, a land of mystery built by refugees with turmoil souls, was not strange and weird but was so much homelike, so much part of him.
    The joy of freedom, of commanding his own destiny, flooded through his veins like a strong potion. Lost in thought and lost in time, forgetting any stress and weariness, he did not know how long he had run. He kept on running, sometimes jogging, until he ran along a stream and saw some moving shadows behind the trees. He halted momentarily in amazement as if he had just been awakened from a dream. He gazed intently in the direction and determined that they were hikers from Hong Kong.
    Happily, he jogged forward and met a young kid playing video game with a cell phone. The boy gazed up at John like a child startled out of a dream.
    John asked politely, ``Little Brother, could I borrow your phone to make a local call?"
    ``Absolutely!" the kid answered, handing him the cell phone without any hesitation.
    John thanked the kid and immediately dialed a number he obtained from Uncle Sean.
    ``Bird of red and green. Four events please," the voice of a girl answered from the other side.
    ``Only north, east and west are allowed. No Saturday. No Sunday," answered John.
    ``Pass," the voice answered.
    ``The listener has escaped."
    ``Pass!"
    ``The evil rapist is not thick."
    ``Pass!"
    ``We were wounded on May 35, 36 and its shadow in water."
    There was no reply. John heard a couple of people conferred in whispers in the phone. After a long pause, the girl finally said, ``Pass! Stay where you are and describe to us your environment. We'll send people to contact you."
    The boy lending him the cell phone overheard his conversation. He asked curiously, ``Brother the Elder, there is no May 35 or May 36. The last date in May is 31. Is this true?"
    ``You are absolutely right," said John, smiling with sadness, ``in this world."
    ``A bird that is red and green? What kind of bird is it?" the boy asked again.
    ``Yellow Bird!" said John with a taut smile.
Hong Kong Trails

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