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FLASH FICTION FRIDAYS
Here is the last installment of April's "Flash Fiction Fridays!" Enjoy the read!
"Melons and Skulls"
After many hours of battle, Emperor Babur incited his army to defeat his Indian enemies with these words, “How much better is it to die with honor than to live with infamy. Let us then with one accord swear on God’s holy Quran that none of us will ever think of turning his face from the warfare till his soul is separated from his body.” When the soldiers saw their victory as one for their God’s glory, that renewed their fervor. Of course, excellent commander and strategist that he was, Babur knew that would happen.
In God’s name, many souls were separated from their bodies that day. As Babur ordered his men to remove the heads of his dead enemies, he focused his attention on a higher prize, a melon patch that surrounded the castle he had just seized. He gathered one of the melons, a yellow sphere of pinched skin. He cut it open with his sword, discovering seeds like the seeds of an apple, and thick pulp, the mark of any worthy fruit.
He ordered his men to pick as many of these culinary spoils and possible. He returned to his tent, feeling satisfied. As he enjoyed the ripe fruit, his memories drifted to his Central Asian birthplace in Andijan. He used to lay in the pastures surrounding the mountains of the Ferghana Valley, eating the sweetest grapes, melons, and pears he had ever tasted. And pheasants so fat, four people had trouble eating one!
As he looked around him, he reminded himself that the fruits of the land of India could not compare to the fruits of his youth. Nothing about the place could compare; he knew too well. Would he ever taste the melons and drink the water of the Ferghana Valley again? This place that he just killed for did not even have cold water! He threw the melon he was eating. He glanced at the plans for the new garden he would plant at his castle that would have some of the fruits of his homeland. He smiled.
A few days later, he went to look at the skulls his men separated from the heads of his vanquished foes. His men erected a tower of skulls, a testament to his might and a deterrent to any usurper. He nodded in its direction. Babur spotted a lone skull and kicked it to one of his soldiers. He added it to the bottom.
The emperor turned around, back to his tent and his new melons. He cut one with care and precision, savoring the smell as he took a bite. He looked out of his tent. First, towards the tower of skulls. Then to the horizon. He sighed and took another bite of his melon.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer