TWISTED LINES

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ch4

Amir looked at the boy in heavy woollen clothes and pointed the gun straighter at him. Though he could have shot the boy, something told him not to. He hadn’t done anything wrong, yet.

“Okay.” The boy who called himself Raj agreed. “But you have to be my friend first.”

“What?” Amir blurted and a second later, he was laughing at that ridiculous idea. For some reason, Raj laughed too. “There are no friends here, especially between these twisted lines.”

“What are they?” Raj asked coming closer. He pointed towards the line and walked further to touch it.

“Don’t.” Amir’s voice was sharp. He knew what would happen if one touched it. Few years ago he had seen a snow bird accidentally touch it and die on spot. “Just don’t.”

Raj raised on eyebrow teasingly. “Really? I shouldn’t?”

For someone who was at the other side, Amir noticed that he was putting more risk to himself than to the guys opposite to them.

Amir looked at the boy once more, wondering if it was a dream. He hadn't seen any kid out in the open until now, especially the one who was crazy enough to touch those cables to die.

“No, you shouldn’t.” Amir responded, sternly.

“Then, how about you tell me your name and I’ll not touch?” Raj said, showing his teeth. The front two of them had fallen off and he looked too funny not to laugh.

Amir looked at the boy. Brown eyes, brownish white skin and a laugh that was too infectious. He was sure that the boy wasn’t any bigger the he was. Besides, he looked too young with skinny bones overlapped with woollen jackets.

Amir wondered how he was able to withstand the cold with no fat on the body. Didn’t his parents not feed him well? But more importantly why was he here, out in the cold instead of back at the home? Did his parents know about his extra-curricular activity?

“Fine, but you need to answer my questions.” Amir negotiated, for which Raj nodded his head enthusiastically. “Why are you here?”

“My question first.” Raj held his forefinger up. He sat on the snow, folding his legs as if he was here to listen to stories. “What is your name?”

Amir rolled his eyes. “I’m Amir.” He said, taking a seat opposite to him too. “So, why are you here?”

“My mother died and my father said we were taking a vacation.” Raj said, running his fingers on the cold ice. “But I didn’t think it would be this boring. Hey, do you have friends there? Someone of your age?”

“Yeah.” Amir said, looking away, not wanting to tell him that there was no one for him too. It was surely better than being alone, but Amir was still guarded when all his senses told him that Raj was just another boy. He might just became a friend that he always craved for. “We are not friends.”

“That’s bad.” Raj said, horrified. “Back at the tent, I don’t have any friends. Hey, maybe we could be friends!”

“No! No, we cannot.” Amir got up from his seat. “We are at the opposite side of this border line, can’t you see? We are enemies, not friends!”

“We don’t have to tell anyone.” Raj tilted his head to his right. “I have to get back, my dad will get mad otherwise. Come here tomorrow too, we can be friends.”

Within seconds, the boy had run off just like he had come, vanishing into thin air.

---

Amir thought about the boy he had met in the border for the whole night he had slept, not daring to talk about him to anyone else.

He didn’t know if he had dreamed or if he had actually met anyone out in there. Was he a fairy of the snow that no one else talked about? If that was the case, then would it be okay if he didn’t go to see Raj again?

Would he put a curse on him?

Amir shuddered and giving in to the fear, he walked to the same spot the next day. Raj was already there, standing by the frozen wooden stick, putting another layer of snow on top of it. When he saw Amir walk to him, Raj’s brown eyes shimmered in happiness.

“Amir!” He called, jumping up in his spot. “You came! I thought you had forgotten about me.”

“Hi.” Amir said shyly, his gun pointing downwards. He looked at Raj who had worn the same clothes as yesterday. “What are you doing?”

“I’m making ice candy, do you want one?” Raj asked and Amir nodded his head. “This ice is very sweet and this is salty. See.”

Raj pushed a handful of ice across the border and hesitantly, Amir took it and placed in his mouth. For the first time that his mother had died, he had a small smile on his face.

“This is actually salty and sweet.” Amir said, impressed. “I had never known about this.”

“Me neither.” Raj giggled. “Yesterday as I left, dad hadn’t come back home and I was hungry. So I thought of eating ice.”

“Who eats ice?” Amir asked, disgusted.

“Otherwise you wouldn’t have known this.” Raj beamed. “What about your your mother, does she scold you a lot?”

Amir told him about how his mother had died in the war, not leaning to tell him all the glorious details. He knew that Raj hadn’t experience such horror in his life yet. And being in this part of the world, Amir knew that, that day wasn’t far away.

They sat there and talked for hours. Raj told him about how he missed school while Amir told him how he was practicing to be a shooter one day.

Amir laughed at Raj’s silliness while he laughed at Amir’s questions.

But by the end of the day, they had silently declared themselves as friends.

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