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The Hawk Eye

By Sree Hari

I crouch to avoid detection and noiselessly make my way towards the dilapidated premises of the national library. Though I am sure that no one will be here, I double check the area for intrusion. For mistakes could be very costly tonight. I enter the building and climb up to the top floor. Taking my place behind the central pillar which offers a vantage point, I take out my sniper rifle and reassemble it. I adjust the telescopic view to focus on the target - General Aksan Nadeem.

He is now taking the oath as the President of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. For those of you who haven't heard about my homeland, it is a vast but violent nation to the south of 'Mother' Russia. I think it is the most god-forsaken country in the world. Ever since the Soviet tanks rolled out onto our soils, there has not been a minute's peace. They brutally suppressed us native Kazakhs and their 'grand' plans to make our virgin lands the granaries of the Soviet Union have left them barren and desolate. As if all this wasn't enough, our countrymen take pride in killing each other in the name of ethnic strife.

General Nadeem was supposed to change all that. Often proclaimed as the 'proudest son of Kazakhstan', he was to bring peace among the various ethnic groups and give the homeland a new direction under the stewardship of the Soviet Union. Today he is celebrating his success by proclaiming himself the new President. And of course, the people eagerly herald the arrival of the new era and shower adulation as he completes the oath.

He begins his address to the citizens. "I know what is best for you". My mind immediately recollects the same sentence he told me personally many years back. I was a young soldier assigned to his regiment and was slowly earning a repute for my sharp shooting. He visited me in my tent and ordered me to go to a mercenary training camp in Russia. Throughout all the ordeals I endured in the camp where I perfected the art of sniping, his parting words always gave me encouragement. "The battles of the future would be decided hired assassins. You have a great eye and you will excel. Trust me, I know what is best for you."

By the time I have come back to the present, quite a few of his words have slipped by. "War is never a solution." I had heard even this before. After my training, I was stationed with the National Guards. The times were tumultuous and anti-Soviet sentiments had reached a breaking point. The general personally met me and gave me a list of a dozen leaders of the movement. He told me, "Show me how good you have become. I want each of them to be eliminated within a month. We cannot afford to be at war with Russia and this is the only way we can prevent it. Remember, war is never a solution." In the one month that ensued, I never missed a target. I was nicknamed 'The Hawk' and my glories were sung by the army. 

I drift back to the present. "Love makes us all stronger." To take control over the various sects in the nation, the general had sent me to the eastern mountains to murder the leader of the Kurd ethnic group. I was to gain his complete confidence and then strike at the most opportune moment. But there, I met my true love who happened to be the daughter of the Kurd leader. Soon, my love came to overshadow the obligation towards my mentor and I confessed everything to my love and her father. But her father readily forgave me and blessed our marriage. I was sure that I could not face the general ever again having failed him but as she nestled against me, my wife told, "One day you will have the courage to go meet him and tell him everything. And he will forgive you and accept us. Love makes us all stronger."

Back to reality. "We are all brothers." I had gone to the nearest town to buy some stuff for myself leaving everyone behind in the village. When I came back, I found the entire village razed to the ground. After I regained consciousness, I tried searching in vain for the body of my wife but it was impossible to distinguish the charred remains in the mess. I thought that I would go mad when a boy came to me and handed me a note. He had somehow managed to escape the carnage. I felt my father-in-law talking to me through the letter. "In order to gain the support of the majority Kazakh sect, to which you belong, and of the Russians, General Nadeem has ordered the massacre of every minority settlement in the country. Now that you have aligned with us, he will hunt you down. Escape from this unlucky land. All of us loved you very much. Just remember that whether we are Kazakhs, Kurds, Uzbeks or Tatars, we are all brothers."

The general thunders, "I shall not our enemies escape." I have evaded the general's soldiers for over a year now with a sole purpose- vengeance. Every night the face of my deceased wife haunts me. I shall never get peace till I avenge her. I have been planning and waiting desperately for tonight. But there is no life for me to look forward to in this land. They will find me sooner or later and kill me. That is why I am wearing this suicide vest to detonate the bomb the minute I kill him. No general, I do not plan on escaping.

"Glory to Kazakhstan. Long Live the Revolution." As the address comes to an end, the multitudes break into a rapturous applause. The general would not budge till the acclaims died down. The time has come. I check if my hand is shaking. Mercenaries never have to do that, it never occurs to them. But this is a different case. For 'The Hawk' is Azhar Nadeem and I am about to assassinate my own father. As I point the gun towards the man who taught me to use one, my hatred has blinded all other feelings for him. My hand remains absolutely steady.  

Target Locked. Bomb in place. All ready.

Glory to Kazakhstan. Long Live the Revolution.

About the writer: A computer engineer by profession, I aspire to make the world listen to the voice of the suppressed.


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