1976 – A Country Re-Imagined (End)

I was pulled down into a crouching position in the dark passage as the crowd chanted past, down the street. I fought off the hands that held me. I looked at the person; he let out a white teethed smile in the dark. It was Themba. He was also a messenger. We had, sort of, trained together. I sighed in relief.

Themba could see the confusion on my face as we crouched in the passage, watching the crown march past. “There’s chaos everywhere and it’s looking bad”, he said. “Rumours that leaders in Section C have been plotting with the government, receiving weapons and things. Preparing to take over Section B”, he continued. “How did the rumours start?”, I asked. “I don’t know, they say a messengers bag was delivered to one of the leaders’ houses in Section B. But its bullshit and those letters were tainted. Someone tempered with that bag and the information was wrong. But what I do know is that Section B was Hasting’s route. But he was arrested last night. So the question is; who delivered that bag? It was just left on the doorstep. Wait, Hector, you’re Hasting’s friend, right?” he asked me, but I didn’t say anything. He went on, ”you sometimes deliver with him don’t you?” He was now more thinking out loud as we both came to the same realization. He grabbed me by my jacket, his eyes bulging out. “Hector, did you deliver that bag?”, he asked, shaking me. “Hector, Hector, did you?”, he repeated, more desperate. He was shaking me violently and, out of fear, I also grabbed him by the jacket. My silence confirmed his suspicion. My heart sank, I felt dizzy and my hands started shaking as we both clutched at each other.

“Hector do you realize people are going to die for what you’ve done?” he was on the verge of tears and I was consumed by fear and confusion. He was shaking me and we wrestled for a moment. “Get off me so that I can tell the people to stop this madness before people get hurt! Hector, let me go. The people need to know. HECTOR, LET ME GO! HECTOR…Hector! Hector! hector…”

He arms were already going limp when my senses came to me. His hold on me was now weak. Somewhere during us wrestling, utter fear got hold of me. I hadn’t realized that my hands were around his throat and I could feel the muscles in my arms tremble with tension. By the time I realized what happened, Themba’s eyes were already glassy, blank. He’s hands fell to the ground. He was dead.

There was a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. My heart beat hard in my chest. I got up, slowly, dragging my feet backward, towards the street. I was confused and dazed like I was dreaming, looking at Themba lying there. My hands shook uncontrollably. The shouts of the crowd pulled me back into the moment just as I was reaching the street out of the dark passage. I turned to face the crowd and a flaming petrol bomb hurtled over my head, crashing into the window of the shop next to me. I ducked and it missed me. I dove into the street to avoid the explosion. I now found myself in the middle of the crowd. Somehow they thought I was one of them. A guy behind poked me and gave me a steel pipe and smiled. The crowd was chanting as it made its way into
Section C. I was stuck in there middle with a steel pipe in my hand, moving with them.

I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know who we were looking for. I didn’t know what we were going to do when we found them. Flames, screams and liberation songs rose into dark night with thick smoke. I remember thinking to myself; liberation from whom?

* This story, although influenced by actual event, is purely fictional. All due respect is given to those whose names are mentioned throughout, their families and friends.