Wednesday, 4 February 2009
01:36:23 AM (GMT)
"Balaji, I will fight beside you! I will never leave you!" I screamed to him, but he
didn't seem to hear. Instead he stared into my grey eyes; burning memories into my
"Aala, all the stars in the sky will never equal my love for you." he whispered in my
ear as he kissed me softly.
"I love you, Balaji." I choked out. "I love you also, Aala. Do not ever forget that,"
he replied, and ran away, not looking back.
"Aala! Come!" a woman shouted at me. I blinked several times and finally grabbed my
spear, basket of supplies, and followed the other women and children that were
fleeing into the forest. The pale faces had been spotted that morning; and the men
were sharpening their weapons, ready for a war. I found myself fighting back tears as
I ran; and I knew why. Balaji. I loved him, and he loved me. I had even pictured our
bondage ceremony: me in a beautiful, soft deer-skin dress, flowing to my ankles that
just showed my bare feet. Him in a deer-skin suit, also, groomed and handsome.
Everyone would play drums and dance around a fire that night. But this changed it
"Aala, Aala," Chhaya, one of the village children, called to me from a tree she was
sitting against. We were deep into the forest, and it was almost completely dark.
'Aala,' my name given to me by my mother, meant "she who hunts and heals." My mother
had given me that beautiful name just before she died. That night my father, the
chief of our tribe, had burned her and locked her ashes in her wooden jewelry box. He
had lay the box into the river, where my mother often sang.
"Aala, stay." Chhaya pleaded. Chhaya was an orphan also, although she didn't have a
grandmother to take care of her like I did. She often scampered around the camp,
finding mischevious things to do. Her name, which meant 'shadow,' fit her perfectly.
She slunk around the camp, always finding a way to go outside and play in the
mountains when the children were supposed to be asleep.
"Of course, Chhaya," I replied, smiling through my red face. She hugged me and
noticed my basket.
"You brung supplies?" she inquired. I nodded, and she pulled the lid off of the woven
basket. Inside were a few winter garments, made out of thick fur, some nuts, berries,
dried meat, and my few pieces of jewelry.
"Ooh," Chhaya pulled out a necklace that was a piece of rope with a bear tooth on it.
I had earned that when I had beaten one of the men at a hunting contest. He had been
teased by all of the other men when the contest ended.
All of the children and women froze at the exact same time as we heard the stomping
of men's boots.
"The pale faces!" I yelled. All of the women gathered their things and ran out of the
forest and into the field that was behind the thick grove of trees.
"Here, take this. I'll be fine," I handed my basket to Chhaya and grabbed my spear.
"Run!" I commanded her. She gave me one last glance before following the other women
to safety. I climbed up one of the trees, staring as the pale-faced men inspected the
One of the men shouted something to what seemed to be the leader in a language I
didn't understand. A spider dropped in front of my face, and I batted it out of the
way with my hand. I lost my grip on the thick branch and fell with a thud to the
ground. I heard the men shouting again, and everything went black.