Susanna Rachaprolu

School: Aberdeen Grammar School, Aberdeen
 

The Scent of Jasmine


The man pointed the gun at Nada’s face menacingly.  The lower part of his face was hidden by a dark scarf tied around it

She gazed wistfully at the ground. There - another reason why she and I were best friends. While I got all panicked and hysterical during a crisis, she was always there to guide me calmly through the storm.

But not for long.

I knew she’d refuse to go; she had always treated everyone fairly and never ever missed an opportunity to voice her thoughts and beliefs to anyone. Well, not anyone - she was quite shy, but when it came to a matter of fairness, justice and equality, all her initial shyness would be completely forgotten.

All around us, the lush Congolese countryside was spread out like an everlasting blanket of green. Nearby, there was a village and the sound of children playing and their mothers talking could be heard.  Above, crows and magpies cawed.

It would have been perfect, absolutely perfect except for the fact that there was a massive chance of soldiers hiding in the undergrowth, waiting and watching for the moment to strike.

“Put your hands up and follow me, girl, or you will be shot,” the man said softly. His tone was not pleasant.

“No,” Nada’s voice was calm, and she met the man’s face with a steady glare. “I will not.”

“You had better obey me, girl, or it will not be good for you. Just get in the truck. There are sweets there. Nothing to worry your pretty little head about.”

 His face twisted into a fake grin, trying to lure Nada into a false sense of security.

“As I said before, no,” said Nada politely.

“Are you sure about that?” said the man. He didn't sound polite anymore.

“No, sir,” she repeated. “Do you think I do not know who you are? And anyway, my friend is right here. She will tell the police that you have tried to kidnap me.”

She turned around, facing the bushes behind her. Now, a little of what she must have been feeling began to show on her face.

That moment was the worst in my entire life. I knew that if I showed myself, both of us would be taken and no one would ever know what had happened so the man who was kidnapping would never be brought to justice. But if I didn't, Nada would be alone and I would lose her forever.

Time stood still for a moment.

I could not bring myself to do it. Even today, I still curse myself for not having the courage and bravado that only Nada had.

BOOM.

The deafening sound echoed through the hills. The single bullet that killed my very dearest friend was shot by the hateful man who was no more than twenty feet away from me and was getting ready to leave with an expressionless face. Only one thought rushed through my mind: It is my duty to avenge her.

That was enough.

I jerked up from my hiding place which was an enormous jasmine bush and ran over to Nada. She had always been pretty, in a quiet, serene way - even as life slowly crept out of her... she always reminded me of an impala, with her long, elegant legs and huge, aqueous brown eyes.

But now she was gone.

All of a sudden, I couldn't hold it in anymore. I wept and wailed my heart out until I could weep no more, not even attempting to keep the tears in for grieving was better than the dry, painful ache inside.

I trudged back to the hiding place and gathered as much as I could of the creamy, fragrant buds and twined the jasmine into Nada's curly black hair.

As I went back to the bush, I couldn't help but think that it had been better that the man had killed Nada rather than capture her because she would be harassed in every way there, especially because of her beauty. But, there is nothing better than life, is there?

There was a single opened flower on the top of the bush. It was the biggest jasmine I had ever seen.

Tenderly, I slowly twisted the stem to separate it from the bush and I carefully wrapped Nada's fingers around the stalk.

It would be a long time before I would learn to appreciate the scent of jasmine again.

I silently sent up a prayer to heaven when I heard a familiar sneering voice behind me saying “So, little girl, a little late to save your friend, are you not?”

I couldn’t speak. There was a lump the size of a coconut stuck in my throat. I wanted to scream at him, run up against him. But, as Nada would say, doing that did not make me better than he was.

I swallowed.

 

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