"Life is the price we pay for running away from death "
































































As a child he would spend hours playing hide-n-seek in the phosphate mines. Every now and then a military jet would fly past, roaring its way at 2 to 3 Mach, and leaving a trail of icy smoke. He would run out of the mines to watch the jet, but all he would find is the smoke-trail, which appeared to him like a gigantic friendship band in the cloudless sky. And then he would beam a salute, with every hair on his body standing up to acknowledge the roar.
 
He burnt with desire, to leave the mines and fly those jets.
 
All through his youth, he was guided by the one purpose: to become a fighter plane pilot. He had the family backing and the smartness to be easily eligible. But most importantly, he had the will. He was focused single-mindedly on manning that cockpit, of pushing the control-stick and taking the bird into flight. While other boys of his age sought pits for their cock, he was preoccupied with the cockpit.
 
He burnt with lust, to fly the bird and own the skies.
 
Every year when they played the national anthem, he would stand at the forefront of class and sing loud praises of God and the King. It was a country that he was proud of, that he swore to defend at any cost.
 
He burnt with passion, to fulfil his duty towards his motherland.
 
Then, one fine day, he made it past the goal-post. He was a fighter-pilot, an elite one at that. He had manned many flight hours and managed many a manoeuvre with ease. He was now, officially, the best of his country's breed.
 
He burnt with pride, and craved to push the boundaries of his achievement further...
 
Then came the call of duty, the pilots were lined up for a mission. This was the day he had prepared for. Terrorists had overrun the neighbouring country and were threatening his country's borders. They had to be stopped. He was, now, the defender of peace. He burst at his seams to take off, rip the skies with his thundering roar and scream hell upon the terrorists.
 
He burnt with anger, to annihilate those wicked people.
 
He was cleared for take-off and out he flew. With one hand on the stick and one on the bomb-release button. His orders were clear - shoot at sight. He was roaring towards the hills, where those mercenaries lay hiding. As he sped ahead, he recalled how he had burnt all this life for this moment. When there were only a few moments to reach his target, he felt a thud behind him. He had been hit by a stinger missile. His plane hurtled out of control. He didn't think twice as he ejected out of the plane, and landed bang in the middle of the hills, right into the hands of the mercenaries. He burnt to attack them but all he could manage was a mild struggle. He was their prey now. Over the next few days, they tortured him, beat him black and blue and recorded videos to parade their victory. Until, finally, one day they decided to make him the ultimate example of their strength. They dragged him into the open, doused him with petrol, and under full media glare, set him on fire...
 
Alive, eyes closed, head turned to the sky, in full senses, he burnt!