Chapter 3

Written by: Hemali Ajmera

Darian immediately stepped forward and pulled Dilara to safety behind a huge oak tree. He silently motioned the other women to disperse. The stream of arrows continued in Dilara’s direction, making it amply clear who they were intended for.     

Bravely Darian stepped out from their hiding place and shot back arrows in the direction of the attacker. After a few exchanges, the attacker seemed to have exhausted his stock. Stealthily Darian walked towards the direction from which the attacker had shot the arrows. He looked behind trees and bushes but found no one.

Dilara was trembling with fear, slouched on the ground beneath the tree when Darian returned. Dilara’s vulnerability pierced his heart. On her part, Dilara was overwhelmed with Darian’s reassuring presence and in a moment of weakness, the two threw themselves in each other’s arms. No words were exchanged but their actions bespoke their mutual desire. 

The women who had accompanied Dilara hastily returned to the village and informed the men about the assault on Dilara.  Armed with spears and bows, the village warriors marched toward the place where Dilara and Darian sat, wrapped in each other’s arms.

The pounding of warrior feet alerted the two lovers, who were quick to assume their original roles – that of the protector and the protected.

Darian assured the men that all was well with the Chief’s wife. After instructing Darian to safely escort Dilara to the village, the men dispersed in different directions to hunt down the attacker who they presumed to be Dilara’s surviving clan member. 

Holding Darian’s arm, Dilara started back to the village when out of nowhere a middle-aged woman appeared before them. She was disheveled and dressed in rags. Her hair was matted and her weather beaten face made her appear much older than she really was. Yet her physique was exceptionally strong and there was fire in her dark eyes.

“How long do you think you can escape your fate?” she shrieked.

Both Darian and Dilara were caught unawares by the aggression of this intruder. Her thundering voice and imposing stature stirred some vague memories in Dilara’s mind but the rust of the many bygone seasons failed to ignite her recollection.   

By now Darian had his bow ready and dipped his hand over his shoulder to pull up an arrow from his quiver. A glance backwards made him realise that it was empty. He had used up all his arrows in the earlier attack.  

The woman smiled scornfully and hitched an arrow on her bow. She aimed straight at Dilara.

“You have sullied the name of our tribe. You married the son of the traitor who was responsible for the annihilation of our tribe. You bore him a child and destroyed the sanctity of your womb which should have borne our own. Only death can redeem you!” she screamed. 

Paralysed with fear, Dilara stood transfixed. Suddenly her face lit up with recognition and she implored,

“Wait dear aunt Zera, hear me out before you shoot!”

Comments

As we read we are predicting what will happen and a sense of dread starts growing. Then you take a twist and we find ourselves in an unexpected place. Again that surprise is engaging and had you had Yemon turn up it would have been predictable. You take a different turn and that's good because readers feel cheated if the predictable happens. This is not my kind of story, yet I read it as if it was. That's an achievement!