“Get me ten sacks of rice, seven sacks of tapioca and tomato. Get it done by tonight, or else…” he ordered them with a smirk. Lisa shuddered at the thought of it. He left, proud and mighty. Them? They were simply treated like dirt, trampled on, tortured. Life was hell for them. The rich live in those mansion and the poorer lived in shambles with their tiny huts almost bare. All they wanted was freedom. Just because they have money, we are the servants. Lisa felt indignant for all of them. She questioned her grandfather and parents numerous times, but they would only shake their head, claiming, “It is not only now that we are slaves. This had been going on for many years, during our ancestors time.” They always glance around before telling her anything, for fear that even walls have ears and may just pounce up on them anytime, devouring us.

This time, Lisa was determined to get an answer. One that is clearer. Ten-year-old Lisa knows not much about this world, but it is her right to know. She asked, “Why, why do we have to do this? They are so unreasonable. Their demands just get more and more everyday. Why do we have to suffer under their rule? Why can’t we have our country back?”

It seems as they could see her grave look and knew that they needed to tell her the whole cruelty of the situation. Although they try not to show it, Lisa could sense that they were worrying a lot, at the same time trying not to let her join their suffering too much. When will this place get brighter?

“Well, hundreds of years ago, these people already had more power and wealth, they colonised our country, poor and weak at that time. Since then, we had to be slaves for them. Many had tried to escape, but only a few succeeded, but those who escaped were either caught again or starve. It seems now that the best ideal way is to do their bidding, and always hope that we can at least survive in this harsh place. If we don’t,” Grandfather paused, “You will suffer even more. There have been stories of people who went, but never came back. Your uncle was one of them.” Expressing misery and grief on his face, Lisa decided not to probe any further. All Lisa knew was that they needed to get the job done, or not it will be “doom”.

Lisa sighed. She added in a small whisper, “Grandpa, what should we do? We won’t be able to get so much food in such a short time.” Lisa shuddered. Her parents, though remained focus, but too were anxious.

“Do we steal?” Lisa meekly asked. This was their last hope but her parents were firm on not stealing. Even if they were desperate, stealing was definitely out of the question.

“Lisa, we hope you youngsters will be able to free us one day, and bring light to this dark place. Even plants cannot survive without light, neither can we.” Father gave her a reassuring look.

To solve the current problem, everybody put their heads together. It was going to be a tough thing to get so much food supplies when they could not even barely feed themselves. Just then, Lisa thought of a plan that could be used. That was to sew the sacks thicker and more layers, creating lesser spaces, resulting to be able to put in lesser food. It was surely an idea, but the question was, would it work? Those rich people are definitely not fools.

“Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” They heard people shouting outside. It seemed to be the entire village! We looked through the dusty, dingy and broken window. The people have gathered and they were all raising their hands up high, shouting. Lisa could clearly see that the people were holding knives, stones, rotten food and whatever they could find.

“We had enough of this!” They shouted coordinately. Lisa and her family decided to join the mob. So Lisa murmured to herself, “I see. People can’t take it anymore. People are finally voicing out. People are expressing their anger, what they want —– freedom.”

It became apparent that the mob was headed for the white mansion afar. They looked up, the dark clouds still covering the sky. The sky that they never go to see. Upon reaching the mansion, the general came out snobbishly, chiding at us. “Well, what made you dogs to come scampering and barking here? You should know what I would do with you all.”

That only made everyone resent him more. Now that there was no more fear, their minds were clear, they were going to fight, fight for what they want and not to be weak anymore.

The people started hurling whatever they had at him. The soldiers came rushing out. With mob psychology, they started picking up rocks and stones from the ground and began tossing. Soon, it was a shower of not only weapons, but all their hatred and anger, trying to bury them.

Before any of the soldiers could do anything, one of the stone went smacked right in the middle of his forehead, the crow let out a roar. Another stone hit him, making him collapsed onto the ground. Even the soldiers had to retreat and take cover. One of the soldiers went forward and put his fingers under the General’s nose.

“Retreat! Retreat!” He yelled at the top of his voice. The crowd started chunking with all their might again. They were finally out of their land. Everyone let out a roar, not able to contain their happiness. The fact that hunger had pursued them relentlessly for years, now they could grow and eat their own food. They got back what was rightfully theirs. Some of them looked at the white mansion and grinned. Some looked up and saw the grey clouds dissipating. They were free. They could finally see the clear blue sky. The people’s hearts were no longer filled with trepidation.

“Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” The mob let out incessant roars, this time not of suffering but content. “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”

 -June Tan(1J)


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