22. května 2009 14:33 Lidovky.cz > Zprávy > Redakce

A Word and a Fire

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The word could never be said in a normal way. At first, people were scared to say it at all. It originated in their minds like a spark of hope from a cinder of their spite. For a long time, it just existed in their minds, for a long time it just smoldered. But it had to escape; it had to begin to flicker.

Then the word was just a pilot light, easy to put off. It was only whispered for oneself, everyone had looked around before saying it, before he would show a fire of spite. As time went, however, people started to show their little fire to others who wanted to warm themselves up; people who wanted to hear the word although they were too scared to say it themselves.

The more people were sitting around the fire, the hotter it was, but it was still safely hidden in a circle no one from outside could look into. As the fire burned hotter, so the number of people around it was growing and eventually, even their enemies could catch a glimpse of light. But for a long time, they didn´t pay any attention to it.

Suddenly, a spark leaped outside the fireplace. It fell on dry grass, which ignited immediately; then a nearby bush caught fire, then a tree and finally, the entire forest was burning with a word that wasn´t whispered anymore, it was shouted as a challenge to anyone who was afraid of the fire.

No, the word could never be said in a normal way.
The word was “revolution”...

The word had also reached the ears of a man, sitting alone in a poorly lighted room. He had heard it before in murmurs around him, but only now did people shout the word, only now it became a flame of hope. The man looked out of the window. There were fires burning in the entire city. Soon, the night would be over and the sun would shine at a free country for the first time in many years. Now, the fires of revolution are burning but tomorrow, warmth of freedom will warm everybody.

Things sounded great, but the man had lived for too long to think in black and white. Yes, the dictator had been defeated and locked in a tower many innocent people were locked in before. Yes, his army had been blasted apart and his officers were hiding from the flame of revolution. It was only a matter of time before democracy would rule after almost thirty years of dictatorship. But would democracy really make everything better? Would the people be free? Maybe, the idea of people ruling themselves is the worst slavery ever. There would no longer be any unmistakeable Leader, just ordinary people.

The man was looking out of his window, thinking about the future. He didn´t know, what would come now. He was pretty sure that even the honourable Siad Avio, along with other representatives of the revolution, didn´t know what would come. It was pretty easy to start the fire. After the sunset, the revolutionaries had assaulted the Fort Victor, the biggest symbol of the Leader´s power and a prison for all of his political opponents. Everything had been pretty much decided when the gates of the fortress opened and Siad Avio had walked out as a free man with ten thousands of people behind him. At that moment, no one had doubts any more, not even those who knew about the secret fire, but they were only looking at it from a great distance, expecting rain. Ten thousands had become millions, marching under a red banner of the revolutionaries.

Yes, the ignition was easy, but what now? Democracy doesn´t create itself. Or was Siad Avio lying the entire time and will he rule the land alone? Is he going to walk into the Maiesta Palace like Gull De Varrions did, twenty seven years ago? Will he become the new Leader, even crueller than the preceding one?

That would be pretty hard, the man had to admit. De Varrions was known as a stout dictator, able to arrest or execute anybody who had dared to protest. But if you obeyed (and believed everything the propaganda said), he would look almost nice, like a man to the fore. Clearly, he was an able politician, otherwise he probably wouldn´t had ruled the fifty million-strong country for almost thirty years. Nevertheless, there were certain “details” about his government. For example, during the rebellion in Norhern Artiricia, the Leader didn´t hesitate to bomb a piazza with thousands people protesting, half-mad with hunger because of a famine caused by a terrible draught. Another horrible act appeared when one of De Varrions´s generals was assassinated. Yes, the offender had to be caught, but the way Leader chose was controversial at least. The man remembered the fear the Leader´s announcement had caused – “... as an answer to this horrible act, 1200 children from thirty different schools has been imprisoned. Every day, until the offender is caught, twelve of them would be executed. The welfare of the nation is more important than a man´s life...” After three days, over seventy possible murderers had been reported. They had all been executed.

A bitter smile appeared at the man´s face as he realized his thoughts would be considered heretical under the old laws and under the new ones too. There were no doubts that De Varrions´s despotism had to be destroyed, but was the baptism of fire really the best way? During one night, there were ten times more people killed than during the Northern Artiricia incident and it was pretty certain that there would be more casualties. “The welfare of the nation is more important than a man´s life” was one of the Leader´s mottos. Maybe Avio agreed with it too. Because of one enormous wildfire, many hopeful lights of life had been put off. How can a government started by rivers of blood be successful? How many human lives is freedom worth? A hundred? Twelve hundred? Half a million? Where was the border according to Siad Avio?

The man´s thoughts were interrupted by a nearby explosion.  He looked from the window and he saw the Leader´s statue falling. Even the Maiesta palace was on fire.

“When is this madness going to end?” gasped the man “the Leader is locked up and he is going to be executed at dawn, so what is this blazing inferno for?”

The man looked to the east and noticed that the flame of revolution and flames in the city were joined by a heavenly fire. The sun was rising and it was looking in terror on rebels using the same methods the hated Leader used. The man realised what the sunrise meant, he walked from the window, sat on a wooden bench and he blew out a little candle, the only flame of hope in the room.

Almost immediately, a door opened. The man looked at a pair of guards with heavy shackles.
“You will not need those” he said.
“We insist” declared one of the guards. “According to the Revolutionary committee you deserve the same luxuries your opponents had.” He tries to look confident, the man thought, but he can hardly trick me. A flame of revolution glows in his eyes, but behind it, I can see a spark of fear. It´s like he doesn´t believe the day is really here.

Silently, they went down the stairs and went out to the courtyard in front of the tower. The man looked at a group of people in front of him. They were all dressed in a red uniform of the rebels. Before they could say anything, he started to speak.

“Shorten it up. I don´t mean to deprive you of your triumph, but the sooner you deal with me, the sooner you can take care of the inferno you caused. Otherwise, it may consume you too... ”

The man laughed at their faces. There were twenty of them, they had guns but still, they were afraid of him. The aura he created would last for a long time after he was dead.

“You are not in a position to threaten us, Mr. De Varrions,” said one of the judges. “Here comes the end to your oppression, you, Gull de Varrions, are hereby sentenced to death for crimes against humanity and thousands of murders. Do you wish to say anything?”
 Gull de Varrions, the Leader, turned towards the execution squad.
“Democracy will have no rule over this land, a fire and chaos will. Do what you came here to do. The welfare of the nation is more important than a man´s life. Fire!”

Matyáš Kapusta
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