The Volcano Lady by T.E. MacArthur
An Englishman with the saffron-orange hair had picked up his little cousin and carried him away from the mob. They stood with fists and sticks, but only watched as their victim was carried away, bloodied and limp. The Englishman had stepped in and now it wasn’t safe for the mob to seek further revenge. If he was accidentally hurt they’d all be hunted down and imprisoned. Or worse. The Englishman, with his tailored suit and stern bearing was untouchable.
No one is safe anymore, Anish thought, as his cousin was carried off. But it was all necessary … a necessary evil. There was such a thing as evil, and he’s seen it in all its white-skinned and bloody glory.
Anish stayed in the shadows and kept watching the white man take his cousin further and further away, considering for a brief moment that he might actually be sorry. It was just as well that Rajiv was being taken away. The little boy was useless; always had been. Between the boy’s age and the fact that he’d been coddled by his parents as the golden son, the pure one, his cousin would never be anything except useless. But Anish, the less desired and not-so pure son, would do the important things as he always did. He was only five years older than his cousin but that was enough for him to have experienced the world, to see that the British were evil, and they had to be removed from his homeland.
Actually, he decided he wasn’t sorry in the least that the nearly lifeless, little, useless boy was being carried off. The farther away, the better. Maybe the saffron haired man would employ him as an amusing little servant, dressed like a tiny Maharaja in silk, fanning the English visitors who’d come to gossip, sweat, plot, and drink tea or alcohol. That’s all they did. And fanning their fat white bodies was all they thought his people, the people of India, were good for. Or, for laboring in the hot sun so that some worthless nobleman far away could become rich. He hated them.
Anish crept in the shadows, using the fact that he was small to avoid the angry eyes now looking for another recipient of their fury. Being a ‘child’ was no deterrent to the mob; they wanted revenge for the upheaval, the destruction, and the death. His cousin’s wounds were proof of that. They’d hit little Rajiv while he was cowering; they beat him while he was lying on the ground; they did this to a child of five years. Whether they recognized his cousin for who he was or simply who they suspected he was, they lashed out him. Anish was quicker and older, he got away. His stomach began to knot and something vial worked his way up into his throat as he remembered those details. No, he didn’t care, he couldn’t care. He wasn’t sorry.
The little boy had achieved one thing after all. He’d distracted the crowd.
The people had become placated under British rule, soft and pliable to the English whims. They didn’t understand that his father would bring back the rightful rule of an Indian Raj. This would lead to former hopes reinvigorated, glories reconstituted and any number of desirable outcomes. All so very simple. It depended entirely on the British being forced out. They were nothing but thieves anyway. Thieves deserved to die. It was just that simple. Certainly, there would be some pain in the transition but the end result was worth any risk or cost.
He slid behind a basket and crouched down in its shadow. He was hungry. His mother had no means to feed them, nor would she until they got to France and to her family. If the French were anything like his mother, then he would be satisfied with living amongst them for a while. They didn’t like the British ruling India anymore than Anish did. He wouldn’t stay in France for long. He would be back by his father’s side, where he belonged, fighting and killing the British. His stomach growled. Yes, he was hungry. If he could find her then he would steal what they needed to eat. And there was nothing wrong with stealing food or anything else that was needed. It wasn’t really stealing. He was the only son of the Raj, half-blooded though he was, and therefore owned it all anyway. Besides, what wasn’t his by birth belonged to the British and was thus the spoils of a war in progress.
A man stepped between the sun and Anish. “I found one of ‘em,” the man said with a thick, low-caste British accent. They always sent their lowest caste to serve in his country, Anish thought; it was yet another attempt at humiliation. The British soldier reached down and grabbed Anish by the collar, dragging him out of his hiding place. “Look at the little bit, ain’t got a muscle to call ‘is own.”
“Nahi!” Anish shouted then swore at the soldier, in the language of the Kings of Bundlekund, though he knew the low-caste man wouldn’t understand. “Ap mujhko!”
“Don’ ya want to see yer mamma, boy? We gots ‘er already. Look at ‘em, he don’ look like no wog. Mighta’ got past us.”
Anish bristled at the reminder that he resembled his mother more than his father.
The soldier was joined by others and the remnants of the mob. Anish stopped struggling and stood up as straight as he could. He was the son of a prince. He would act like the son of prince. The low-caste man struck him across the face, knocking him to the ground. “Come on, yer High and Mightiness.”
He hated them.
(The Volcano Lady by T.E. MacArthur)
The Volcano Lady by T.E. MacArthur