The spark of uprising

Submitted into Contest #45 in response to: Write a story about change.... view prompt

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Fantasy Drama Adventure

Matxino

Matt was running from boulder to boulder as fast as his legs could take him. The middle of the summer season had arrived and it was one of the hottest days. The scorching heat made it almost impossible to roam around outside but he had no choice as he was in the queen’s hunting party. It was almost her lunchtime and he was yet to find any food. He searched from tree to tree, looking for anything to eat, but no luck. His search ultimately led him to the river bank, which for them was the boundary of their territory.

He loved the riverbank, something about the silent flowing water made him calm and peaceful. He looked at the far side of the river and wondered whether he would be able to go there someday. But the daunting width of the river terrified him. It was not easy to cross a river 100 times your size. Maybe a human could do that in a couple of strides, but he was just a tiny ant.

Matxino or Matt was born in an ant colony, just beside the roots of a huge tree. He was always a bright one, filled with an amazing amount of curiosity. He always questioned everything and wanted to know how things worked.

But everything changed after the new queen arrived at the hill. It wasn’t that the old Queen was all rainbows and sunshine but the new Queen was exceptionally gruesome. And the funny part is that she was not even an ant, she was a grasshopper.

She discovered the anthill by mistake and from that moment she took over the house and removed the old queen. She just sat on that throne the entire day, blaring out orders. If her food was delivered on time, she didn’t care about anything else.

Surprisingly, even after all of that, none of the ants raised their voice against the wicked queen. Matt wondered initially as to why everyone went along with her orders. He soon figured that out, they were all scared. To be fair, Matt was scared as well but that didn't stop him from thinking about it.

As he sat by the river and looked at the flowing water, his eyes rested upon a rock which was in the middle of the river. He observed as the water continuously flowed against it, but to no avail. Then his eyes wandered at the other rocks which were under the stream of the water. He realised that all these rocks were once in the path of the water as well, but the continuous flow of the water stream had broken them down and they ultimately had to give in to the flow.

He imagined the giant rock as the grasshopper queen. He realised that the queen was able to maintain her position as there was no flow against her. The ants just went along with every piece of direction she gave them. To break her down, to fight the rock, the ants needed to rise and create a flow against the queen.

Matt was suddenly filled with an enormous amount of energy and he ran back to the anthill. He gathered his friends and explained his plan to them. They quickly spread out throughout the hill, delivering the same message and thus, a revolution had begun.

Matt knew it won’t be easy and in reality too, others weren’t much too enthusiastic about that idea.

‘She is so much stronger, how to we defy her?’

‘She will crush us.’

‘She is the queen; we have to obey the queen.’

Matt realized that his fight wasn’t just against the queen, it was against the false beliefs and the outdated notions. But he was prepared and he said just one thing to everyone:

‘Gather around outside the hill, I will take care of the rest.’

The grasshopper queen was screaming from her chambers as no one appeared with her food that day. She went around the hill but found it empty and thought that maybe the ants abandoned their home and went someplace else.

“I will find them and crush their will to live and….”, her voice trailed off as she went outside and saw the entire ant colony standing before her.

“What is all this? Get back to work or I will crush each and every one of you!”, she screamed at them. The ants started to cower at her voice, but not Matt. He realized that if he didn’t do anything soon, they would lose again to the grasshopper.

“Not this time. You need to go back to where you belong and give control of the colony back to the ants.”, said Matt boldly. The grasshopper looked at him and said, “You pathetic little creature, you dare speak against me? I will start with you and then kill all your sympathizers!”, thundered the grasshopper as she moved towards Matt.

Matt realized it was now or never. He signalled his friends in the hiding and they came up behind the grasshopper and tipped her over. That did nothing to the grasshopper, except to aggravate her even more as she stood up again. But Matt had achieved what he wanted to.

The entire colony had just seen that the queen was not invincible. More ants joined Matt and his friends and they pushed the grasshopper once again. The grasshopper suddenly became aware that she was outnumbered and tried to fly away. But the ants held onto her and refused to let her go.

Matt looked at her and said, “Today is the day we take our house back.”

Waasi

Unknown to the ants, a young boy, by the name of Waasi, was watching the entire ant revolution. He was roaming the streets since the morning in search of some food or money; life as an orphan wasn’t particularly easy. Every day brought more struggle, with no one to look after him. But the worst part was a gang of kids who always picked on Waasi. They were all at least 5 years elder than him and picked on him, sometimes even stole any food that he found. He was a source of amusement to them. Poor Waasi was too little and outnumbered to fight back.

Failing to find any food in the city, his search led him to the wilderness nearby where he thought he could find some fruits. Tired and sweaty, he decided to take some rest under the shade of a huge tree where he stumbled upon the anthill. At first, he was going to move away from it but as he noticed some activity, his interest was piqued.

He obviously couldn’t understand what they were talking about, but the actions spoke plenty. He first noticed the group of ants wandering around the anthill but the real surprise for him was when a grasshopper exited the anthill. He observed as all the ants moved away from the grasshopper and he was suddenly reminded of the bullies that made his life miserable every day.

“Yeah, I know that feeling guys. There’s nothing you can do”, he said while looking at the drama unfolding in front of him.

He then saw that a group of ants tumbled the grasshopper and soon more ants joined them until the grasshopper was left helpless. Waasi was astonished at that. How did the tiny ants even think to overpower the grasshopper? What instigated them to start that fight?

Waasi was pondering over these questions as he got up and resumed his quest for food. And this time, he was victorious. After wandering amongst the forest, he finally found a tree full of berries. His joy knew no bounds as he picked one off and ate it. It was the sweetest thing he ever tasted in his life. He quickly plucked more berries and ate heartily. He then took off his shirt to create a make-shift bag and filled it with berries. For once, he wanted to have some food when he woke up the next day.

He merrily walked back to the city, feeling a little hopeful about his life. But his happiness was short-lived as he saw the gang of kids in his path. His heart sank in his chest as he realized that they would take all the berries away from him. He thought about running away but they had seen him too and he knew from experience that he could not outrun them.

They soon surrounded him, snickering and hollering.

‘It’s the rag-tag orphan again!’

‘I was bored, thank God he showed up’

‘I want to practice my football skills on him’

‘Hey! Looks like he is hiding something in that cloth’

Waasi tightened his grip on the shirt upon hearing that.

“Hand over the bag you loser and I might consider beating you a little less this time”, said one of the larger kids. Waasi looked at him with pleading eyes and said, “Please. Don’t”.

The kid just grunted in response and landed a punch on Waasi’s face and Waasi fell onto the ground. The kid then proceeded to land a few kicks as well and all the other kids cheered.

“Now do you want to hand it over?”, said the bully laughingly.

Waasi slowly stood up. His nose was bleeding from the punch.

But, he didn’t feel it. At that very moment, all Waasi felt was anger. He looked at the much larger boy and said, “No”. The laughing and cheering subsided. The entire gang was flabbergasted at the response. They were expecting him to hand over the bag but all they saw in Waasi’s face was defiance.

The big kid spoke up again, “No? Maybe I didn’t hit you enough. Let me fix that.”

He landed a barrage of punches on Waasi and knocked him down. He then proceeded to kick him till he was out of breath and for the entire duration, Waasi remained silent. When the bully stopped hitting him, he got up again, freaking out every one of the gang members around.

“Did you not understand me? I SAID NO!!!”, Waasi screamed at them. The gang was used to getting their way and looking at this defiance for the first time, they were genuinely scared. They quickly moved away from Waasi and ran away.

Waasi just stood there for a couple of minutes, processing what had just transpired. He was befuddled as to how could he gather so much courage to fight off the entire gang of bullies. He was bleeding from his nose and head, and as his adrenaline wore off, he felt the pain in his abdomen and face. But even after all that, he felt a sense of contentment. Was it because of the berries he had just saved for himself or was it because, for the first time in life he no longer felt afraid?

Maghi

Maghi was taking her evening stroll in the city. Being the sister of the king of those lands, she was hardly able to spend any time just by herself. So whenever she was able to ditch her royal entourage, she liked to walk through the streets and look at the people and their lives. It wasn’t just for amusement though, there was an ulterior motive as well.

Maghi was the firstborn child. Right from her childhood, she was kind, understanding and passionate. She took an interest in other people’s lives and also in the matters of the kingdom’s state of affairs.  But everything changed when the queen gave birth to a son.

Her brother was an exact mirror image of Maghi, completely opposite. Since his childhood, he was lazy, arrogant and cruel. He made everyone around him miserable. But still, he was the most loved, as according to the custom he was going to be the next ruler. The king was aware of his son’s condition and he thought he could rectify his behaviour with time, but time had different plans. The king soon passed away due to a rare illness, leaving his ill-equipped teenage son to take the throne.

As her brother was crowned the king, Maghi noticed silently as he spent all of his time in entertainment. More often than not, she asked the council to bring any serious matters of the state directly to her. Countless times did Maghi try to reason with her brother, to take the responsibility more seriously, but her plea fell upon deaf ears.

So when she walked down the street that evening, her motive was not just leisure but also to assess the living conditions of the people. And what she saw, appalled her. The streets were filled with destitution and poverty. The prices of grains and clothes were skyrocketing.

‘My brother is taxing his subjects heavily to finance his lavish lifestyle’, she said to herself. She moved to a corner and closed her eyes in despair.

‘He doesn’t listen to me anymore. He listens to no one. The entire kingdom is deprived of even the basic necessities and he just doesn’t care. He is not fit to be a king.’, thought Maghi with a cringe. This was her brother after all, she wasn’t supposed to harbour such ill feelings for her brother. Or was she?

Her train of thought was broken by sounds from an alley on the side. She got up and peeked inside to see a small boy cowering away in a corner with a bunch of kids surrounding him. It didn’t take long for her to figure out the situation.

She was just about to intervene when the little kid got up and cried out ‘NO!’, in a loud and defiant tone. She saw the shock on the faces of his oppressors and they weren’t the only ones. The act was a rare sight of courage for Maghi as well.

But she saw the kids recover their stance and one of the bigger kids started to hit the little one, again and again. Maghi was too awestruck to even move, not by the beating, but by the tolerance of that little kid. She had witnessed even the greatest of fighters cry out in pain but there was not a single sound from that little kid.

Eventually, the big kid was out of breath and he stopped kicking. The little kid simply stood and said something to them followed by another scream of ‘NO!’. Maghi saw true fear in the eyes of all the bullies as they scurried away. The little kid just stood there in silence for a few minutes as did Maghi, contemplating what she had just witnessed.

The kid walked away after a while and so did Maghi. The sun had almost set and she headed back towards the palace, but her mind was still on that little kid.

‘Such courage and bravery, even in the face of absolute terror. I wonder, what made that possible’, thought Maghi.

As soon as she entered the palace, she was greeted by one of the oldest councilmen of the king’s court.

“Goodevening princess, may I have word with you in private?”, asked the councilman.

The councilman was one of the best and most trusted advisors of her father’s court and she had always valued his advice in all the matters. But the look on his face worried Maghi.

“Sure councilman, let’s go outside”, said Maghi.

When they were outside and away from the prying ears, councilman continued, “I bring grave news princess and with all due respect, I will be direct. Your brother’s extravagant lifestyle has almost emptied the royal treasury.”

Maghi was not exactly surprised by this. Looking at her brother’s expenditure, she knew this day was coming. But before she could say anything, the councilman spoke again, “And that’s not the worst part princess. He has decided to levy 4 times more tax on the kingdom to fill up the treasury again.”

Maghi was utterly shocked at this statement. Her legs gave out and she sat down on the grass and closed her eyes. The images of the people from her evening walk filled her head. The extreme poverty had left so many of them homeless and helpless. And now this? People won’t survive this.

She could no longer sit on the sidelines and watch her brother starve every little child on the street. She had to do something.

She opened her eyes and stood up to face the councilman. “How quickly can you summon the rest of the council?”, said Maghi in a firm voice.

“Ahh.. in an hour princess. May I ask for what purpose?”, said the puzzled councilman.

“For an immediate change in leadership. Will the council support a suitable candidate?”, asked Maghi.

“Yes princess, I can convince them. But they will only support a candidate of the royal ancestry. Whom did you have in mind?”, asked the councilman.

Maghi looked at him and smiled.

One year later

Maghi was sitting in her chambers, looking out of a giant window which provided the view of a beautiful scenery of tree-covered hills and clear blue sky. Her mind was lost in thoughts of the previous year’s instances. Never in her life, she had imagined that she would have the courage to dethrone her brother and convince the council for a female leader. To this day, she is filled with awe as to how did she acquire that amount of strength. Her thoughts were interrupted by her old friend, the councilman.

“Queen Maghimagsik, the council is ready for you.”, he said with a smile on his face. Maghi took one last look at the window, especially at the small stream of water in the distance which always calmed her, and then she was gone.

PS:

Names of all the characters mean ‘Rebel’ in different languages.

Remember, change begins inside of you. Once you win the battle against yourself, you can win against anyone.


The fuel of change is inside everyone, all you need is a little spark.

June 12, 2020 14:11

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4 comments

21:09 Jun 17, 2020

Great message, and a great story! I loved it!

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Palash Jhawar
02:32 Jun 18, 2020

Thank you Johanna!

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Shubham Kothari
15:53 Jun 13, 2020

This lockdown has given us a good writer!!

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Palash Jhawar
17:37 Jun 16, 2020

Thank you kind sir.

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