Story 2: Never shoot at living beings

In a small town in India, there lived a young boy named ‘Arya’. Arya was 8 years old and lived with his parents and a younger brother ‘Shami’. Shami was only 6 weeks old. He wasn’t very fond of his little brother. For him, Shami was just a new member of the family who didn’t do anything to help or harm him. Today was Arya’s birthday, his present – A plastic pellet air pistol. His dad knew he was quite young to have one, but he bought him one as he had promised Arya to bring him whatever he’d ask for. Arya’s father did have a plan to teach Arya how to handle the gun and the responsibility that comes with it. He brought 2 target practice boards at home and hung them in Arya’s room. He took a promise from Arya to use the gun only in his room and on the targets only in his room. Plastic pellets are small round plastic balls about the diameter of 5 mm, they weren’t going to harm or hurt anyone except Shami who was still quite young but he didn’t want to take a chance. Arya agreed and never once did he play with his gun elsewhere in the house. 2 years passed and Arya had mastered the art of target practice. He was so good at shooting the plastic pellets that  he was able to hit the target even under windy conditions. Over the 2 years his dad had occasionally taken him to park with his target boards and let him practice. He would pride on his gun and skills making everyone around him in the park jealous. Arya was able to understand the variables like wind speed and wind resistance very well and would hit the target at any distance accurately. Arya loved his brother Shami and always told his mother “I will teach Shami how to shoot when he grows older”. To which his mother usually replied, “Yes, you brothers will make India proud in the olympics”.

One day the family went for a picnic in a park far away. Arya was allowed to carry his gun, but they didn’t bring the targets. While Arya’s parents were setting up the picnic snacks, Arya was wandering around exploring the park. He began shooting at leaves on the trees. Soon, he realised he was bored and needed something more exciting. He noticed that there are many birds on the trees. He had found his new target. Birds were agile and excellent targets to practice. He had a new challenge in front of him. He aimed at a crow on the nearby tree and shot, the pellet hit the crow. The plastic pellet did not hurt the crow, the crow just fluttered it’s wings and settled down again. Arya wasn’t impressed, he wanted the birds to move so that he can shoot a moving target. He looked around, there were some birds pecking on the ground. The birds were moving swiftly while looking for food. Arya aimed his gun at a pigeon and shot. The pellet hit the bird right under it’s eye, the pigeon was disoriented for a second. It regained balance and flew off immediately sensing danger. The chain reaction triggered by the pigeon made the entire flock of birds to fly away rapidly. The loud fluttering noise grabbed the attention of Arya’s father. He came running to check if Arya was alright. He saw Arya laughing when he reached him, he asked “Arya are you okay? What happened? Why are these birds flying?”

“I shot a bird here and they all got scared”, he replied still laughing.

“Why would you shoot a bird?” asked the concerned father.

“Because I was getting bored. The bird is okay, it’s just a plastic bullet” said an oblivious Arya.

“Arya, you should not shoot at anyone just because you are bored. You should only shoot at inanimate objects, if you start hitting anyone they will get hurt. Never shoot at living beings.” he reasoned with little Arya in the simplest way possible. He was worried Arya would grow up to be an egotistical man who learnt to keep everyone under him with the power of a weapon. He told himself he was thinking too much and jolted the thought out of his mind.

Meanwhile, Arya was able to contemplate what he had done and apologised to his father. He promised to not use his gun on any living being. Arya and Shami grew up to be great shooters, Plastic pellet air guns were replaced by more advanced target practice air rifles very soon with diabolic pellets. Diabolic pellets are made of lead with a flat front, it helps in creating bigger holes on the target papers. Arya and Shami were always supported by their parents. Arya now 21 years old was in a race to getting qualified in 10m Air Rifle shooting Olympic team and Shami had just joined the academy. Arya had broken all records at the academy where now Shami was working hard to break the ones set by his elder brother. Arya used to tell Shami, “You have to be so good that people call me Shami’s brother and not Arya”. Shami often laughed at it but in his heart he wanted that to be true. He admired Arya but Arya was also his only competition. He tried to do better at everything that Arya did. This was a healthy competition according to their parents and they were very happy with the progress of their children.

One night, while everyone was asleep, 4 thieves broke into Arya’s house. The 4th thief knocked over a vase while jumping through the window. Arya immediately woke up hearing the noise as his room was right next to the hallway where the thieves landed from the window. He went under his bed out of sheer instincts. He waited patiently for someone to enter so he can make sense of what was going on. No one entered for 10 minutes. He came out and decided to check outside. Suddenly his doorknob turned. He grabbed his air pistol and went under the bed right in time. The door opened and 2 masked men entered the room. One man said to another “Why is this room empty? The couple was in one room and other room was empty. 2 people should have been here”.

‘Smart move Shami’ thought Arya. Shami and Arya had discussed such a scenario several times and both made a collective decision to hide under the bed as soon as they hear any noise.

“Maybe they went out” replied the other man.

“I was keeping a watch from 5 hours, no one went out of the house” said the man with confidence.

“Are they hiding somewhere? Did they hear us?” asked the 2nd man with concern.

“Quick, alert the other 2, they must have chloroformed the couple already, we need to find the kids, they must be hiding somewhere. Let’s go outside”.

What Arya did not know was that the men had decided to look under the bed but had not announced it. Arya waited for the men to move but they didn’t. Within 2 seconds Arya’s leg was gripped by a strong arm and he was being pulled outside. Arya tried hard to stay under the bed but he couldn’t, the men were too strong for him. He pointed the air gun at the man’s arm, but didn’t shoot. He remembered his promise to dad that he will never shoot a living being. He let go of the pressure and was immediately pulled outside by the men. One man was holding a hand kerchief in his hand, ‘Chloroform’ thought Arya. He had managed to still keep his right arm under the bed hence the gun was hidden from the men. He pulled his gun out and pointed it to the man with the chloroform. Shocked and panicked both men moved away from him. He got up still pointing the gun at the men. He whispered, “Without making any noise, pick this handkerchief up and walk inside the bathroom behind you. The thieves had no idea that the gun they were scared of was an air gun hence giving them a 90% chance of survival if shot anywhere except the heart and head. They also didn’t know that Arya would never fire the gun even if they attacked him. Fear can get the best of anyone, and that’s what had paralysed the intentions of the thieves who were now inside a bathroom at the mercy of a 21 year old.

“Smell the cloth” commanded Arya, still whispering.

“No, please don’t make us do that”, pleaded the thieves.

“Smell it and stay here, don’t smell it and I put a bullet between your eyes” threatened Arya.

The thieves were soon unconscious. Arya locked the bathroom and headed towards his parents’ room.

He saw the door of Shami’s room open. Arya wondered if Shami had dared to come out from under the bed. He immediately denied the possibility. Shami was 13, although an excellent shooter, he was still a kid who would be scared in such a situation. Arya decided to go check on his brother first. He peeped into the room and saw no one. He was now sure the thieves were collecting what they can find in his parents’ bedroom. He entered the room and looked under the bed. Arya was in for a surprise when he saw Shami pointing his Plastic pellet air rifle at him. “You know that won’t hurt me right?” whispered Arya. Shami realised it was his brother he was looking at and immediately came out and hugged him. “I’m scared” whispered Shami.

“Don’t worry, it will be okay. Let’s just stay here and call the police”

They hid inside Shami’s bathroom and called 108, the Indian equivalent to 911. They gave the address to the police and were instructed to stay hidden and let the cops handle it. Both brothers sat inside the bathroom resting against the wall. Both of them were still holding the gun.

“What about mummy papa?” enquired Shami.

“They have been chloroformed, but don’t worry the police will be here soon”. Arya was also worried but he wanted to Shami to be calm. Shami gave a nod and closed his eyes resting his head on the wall. 5 minutes later there was a noise they heard. It was the typical noise of the door opening in Shami’s room. Arya prayed to God that they were the cops who opened the door but he didn’t want to take any chances. He stood up and was pointing his gun towards the door. In another minute the bathroom door’s lock turned but did not open. Arya had locked the bathroom from inside.

“Open the door or I will shoot you” shouted the thief outside.

“He has a gun. He has a gun Arya” whispered Shami hiding behind Arya.

Arya replied to his little brother “You too have a gun. Just stay calm and hide on the side of the wall so he can’t see you”.

“Open it or I will shoot I promise” once again the thief was shouting. He continued, “I know you are hiding in there, you trapped my partners inside the other bathroom. Open the door and face me you coward. I want to see the face of the person who did that”.

“I… I … have a gun too” stammered a clearly shaken Arya. Arya was scared that the thief found out what he had done to his partners.

“Oh yeah? Why don’t you open the door and show me?” The thief shouted and kicked the door. He broke the lock in one kick and now was facing Arya who stood there shaking and pointing his air gun at him. He saw the thief, he was holding a revolver. Arya’s feet weakened. Arya had pictured himself standing in front of a villain numerous times, but he could not think of anything he can do as he faced his most daydreamed situation in real life. Shami didn’t know what was happening, he was only able to see Arya. He peeped a little from the side to see the strong man wearing a mask and dressed in white holding a gun pointed to his big brother. Without thinking twice, he shot at the hands of the thief with his plastic pellet gun. Although the pellets cause no harm, the thief was clearly shaken by the continuous volley of plastic bullets on his arm and accidentally dropped his revolver.

“Shoot him bro”, shouted Shami.

At that very moment, his father’s words flashed in his mind “Never shoot at living beings”. Arya couldn’t gather the courage to shoot the thief who was about to kill them with his revolver. The thief was a second away from picking it up again. Arya could not shoot the thief, his hands froze, his legs jammed and his mind went blank. Arya did not realise that he had wasted a full second  and the thief had almost picked up the gun again. Shami, on the other hand had dreamed of a situation like this with Arya. He had no reservations against shooting the thief who was about to kill him. He wished he had Arya’s gun. He wasted no time and aimed for the thief’s eye. He knew the plastic balls ought to hurt in the eye. They did. 2 shots from Shami made the thief groan in pain and bring his hand to cover his eyes instead of picking up his fallen weapon. Arya, now out of his shock moved forward and kicked the thief in the face making him fall on the other side. Arya kicked the revolver towards the door and then kicked the thief again in the face. He realised that the thief was a strong man and could grab him instantaneously.

“Run and get out of the house. Go to the neighbours” he shouted. He wanted Shami to get out of there immediately. Shami obeyed and ran outside. Shami was out of the room in a second. Arya followed him, he managed to kick the revolver outside the room. Arya bolted the bedroom door so the thief won’t be able to come out. He turned right toward the front door across the hallway. A chill ran down his spine when he saw the fourth thief holding Shami hostage pointing a revolver on Shami’s head.

“Drop your gun or I will kill him” he demanded.

“Okay Okay, please don’t hurt him”, Arya was afraid but no more under shock. Somehow he had anticipated that he will come face to face with the fourth thief, what he did not picture was getting Shami involved. Shami had shown exceptional bravery. He saved Arya when Arya was supposed to save Shami. Arya was ready to shoot the man, hurt him, finish him. He was afraid, but he was angry. These thieves had hurt his family and he wasn’t going to stay silent. He knew the bullet won’t kill the thief, he was 18 meters away and the bullet would lose it’s velocity before reaching him. He wished he had picked up the revolver from the third thief. It was now lying a couple meters away from him. He looked at Shami, he was scared. He had to be, he was a moment away from death. One wrong move and he would be dead. ‘Shami is brave’ Arya thought. He dropped his gun, it went a few inches away from him. He already had a plan in mind. He prayed for it to work.

“Let him go, take whatever you want from the house, just don’t hurt us. We haven’t seen your faces, you can leave. Please take what you want and leave. Do not hurt us I beg you” Arya pleaded with both hands joined.

“Let you go? You trapped my men in your bathroom, you knocked them out, you pointed a gun at me and my men and trapped one in that room, I will not let you go, I will make you suffer. You might as well call the cops if I let you go right?” shouted the now angry thief.

“We won’t call the police, we promise”. ‘The police should be here any minute’ thought Arya as he reasoned with the thief. ” We will not call anyone, just leave us please”. Arya now kneeled down begging. The thief was now pointing the gun at Arya and holding Shami with his left arm.

“Please let my brother go” Arya began to cry. He continued, “Let Shami go. Please”. Arya shouted startling the thief. He was waiting for the moment when the thief would point his gun away from Shami. Shami now wasn’t in immediate danger and seeking the opportunity Arya picked up his air gun and shot right at the chandelier on top of the thief. As he shot the chandelier he shouted, “Shami run”. Shami was ready, he was ready when his brother shouted ‘Please’. The thief saw the chandelier getting shot, out of sheer anger he decided to kill Arya. Arya was quicker and he shot at the chandelier again, this time it was hanging on one metal wire. ‘Damn this air gun’ thought Arya. At the same time, Shami stomped on the toes of the thief with his ankle with as much force as he could gather resulting in letting him go free by the now agonised thief. He seized the opportunity and ran. The thief now furious for being fooled by kids turned around to shoot Shami. Before he could point his gun at Shami, the chandelier came crashing down on him making him collapse under the weight of it. Arya had hit the wire in his third shot. The police were there in under a minute and were expecting a tough group of thieves. They had come with a force of 20 men. Shami was outside the house, he asked the cops to go in ASAP as his brother might be in danger. The cops saw the crashed chandelier and the thief under it as they entered. They saw Arya lying on the floor and came running to him worried.

“Are you hurt son?” asked the inspector.

“Nope, I am just resting sir. Can we please go to my parents’ room, they should be unconscious and possibly need medical treatment?”

“What about the other 3 thieves? We had a report of 4 thieves.” asked the inspector again ignoring the sarcasm Arya just used.

“They are safely trapped, one in my brother’s room and 2 in my room. They are unarmed. Their gun is here and there” He pointed towards the revolver outside Shami’s room and the one in the hands of now unconscious thief buried under the broken chandelier.

The cops arrested the four thieves, sent the parents to the hospital in an ambulance and took the kids to the hospital as well. The doctors assured the kids their parents will be fine. Police took the statements from Arya and Shami. At the end of it all, the inspector asked Arya. “Everything makes sense except for 1”.

“Which one?” asked Arya holding his little brother tight.

“You had an air gun all the time with you”

“Yes” confirmed Arya.

“Why didn’t you shoot them when you had the chance? We would have clearly ruled it as self defence”. the inspector was really curious. Shami looked at his brother with the same question in his eyes.

Arya smiled softly and said, “I promised my father I will never shoot at living beings”.


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