Suddenly, a gust of wind blew away the souffle of clouds hiding the silvery crescent moon which then appeared brighter than usual. Had the clouds not been there, the night sky would have appeared more beautiful with all those dazzling stars and the pleasant scent of orchids in the atmosphere. Lying down in the grassy field, and staring at the night sky seemed so tempting but I had some duties to fulfill; to attend to the sick and injured soldiers and to count the number who never returned from the battlefield.
When I was returning back to my barrack after completion of all my assigned tasks, I could hear some faded voices at a distance. As I moved closer I could spot two shadows.
“Huh! What do they think they are? Will they be able to defeat the mighty Mughals?”
The other one giggled, "Not even by chance. They can't even guess the number of soldiers, horses, weapons, and tanks we possess. Though some of our comrades are dead, they were not even one-tenth of the whole army of our great king Aurangzeb." Saying so the two officials started laughing.
Loss of more than a thousand lives seemed to be a trivial/minor thing for both the high-ranked officers as the still have many to spare. But I could acknowledge the pain and fear their families were suffering from, the scarcity of food, water, and other supplies the soldiers were facing. No matter who would win the battle, either the Ahoms or the Mughals, it would cost thousands of lives and the destruction of nature.
With all these thoughts occupying my mind, I couldn't sleep the whole night. Soon the sun emerged out of the valley spreading its golden rays to every corner possible. The atmosphere was so peaceful with birds chirping, the breeze blowing making a rustling sound, the mighty Brahmaputra flowing in serenity, and its sparkling water adding charm to the breathtaking beauty of Assam.
Everything was so perfect until the conch was blown aloud signifying the beginning of the war. Soon the Mughal and the Ahom army were seen in a deadly battle with each other. All the brave soldiers were fighting for their lives and the victory of their own kings.
Within a few moments, the battlefield was nothing but a vortex of commotion and violence. The land which was once yellow became scarlet from the blood of friends and foes alike. The atmosphere which I found peaceful in the early morning was then rented by the cries of the ones being slaughtered.
I couldn't bear the scenario anymore, so I returned to my barrack. The war might continue for some days or even months or end up within some hours if both sides would make a mutual agreement. The situation was getting more tensed as hours passed by. The sun was about to set when one of the cavalry soldiers came running inside the barrack. There was blood all over his clothes and when I took a better look of him, I was horrified to find one of his arms missing but I was more horrified to hear the news he gave.
“We......we lost. We lost to the Ahoms. The army has been dismantled. Our commander-in-chief, Mansur Khan is defeated and now we are devastated.”
Soon after uttering these words, he became unconscious and fell down. A few moments later, a troop of the Ahom army marched in and held everyone captive. They then made us move towards Itakuchi Fort, where they put us all behind bars. I didn't have any idea what was coming next. Will we ever be free? Or were we to receive a death sentence?
All I could see was darkness around me, all I could feel was a sense of terror and anxiety. For a girl of 17 years, was it the end of her journey, was it the end of the dream of leading a peaceful and happy life?
I came far from west to this land of “Red River and Blue Hills” along with my father to treat the sick and injured, to serve my purpose in life, to serve humanity.
Was it the way, I was being paid back?
To be continued…
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