He stood at the highest edge of the gabled roof, staring at the fireworks in the starless night. He could hear the claps of the small kids, the laughter of the elders and the all-encompassing din of fused chatter of the crowd that had gathered below. He too could have been down there, sharing a joke with his brothers, ruffling the hair of the kids running past, stealing a glance at the girls from a distance. But instead, he stood at the precarious edge, staring absently at the glittering sky. It was almost like falling awake from a long, deep slumber. He knew a secret that threatened his life, put the peace of his quaint village at risk.
Could he let this go on, be a silent victim and witness this catastrophic success? Or could he be the unsung hero who fights this darkness and never lets anyone know? Deep down, he knew he was no hero. He was but a lowly peasant – illiterate, simple of mind. He had no means to fight the evil whose eyes were set on this village for more than hundreds of years now. Evil… It was the first time he was addressing the Ouyangs by that name… even to himself. The Ouyang forefathers built this village – the little forgetful piece of land in the great province of Sichuan. Every person living to this day revered the Ouyangs as messiahs. He winced at the contrast, half wishing he had never come to know of this deep betrayal.
The sky was abloom with a confetti of light, the bursts coming in quicker successions now, which meant the display was nearing its end, as was his time. He didn’t hear the approaching footsteps, nimble as they were.
“Oh my, the view is exquisite from here. Do you come here often?” He looked back startled, almost slipping an inch.
“Nín hǎo Master Yiu Choi” .He said deferentially.
“Your predicament was brought to my attention, and I thought it only fitting to meet you at once.” Yiu Choi looked at the shimmering sky and continued, “The time for decision is nigh my friend”.
His heart was racing fast and his mind drew a blank. He was standing face to face with the great Master Yiu Choi. No one knew how old he was, but the oldest of men in the village swore they saw him as he stood now since their childhood. The great warrior had inspired countless songs and folklores. Was he here to assassinate a poor farmer, was this all he was under the screens and layers of reverence and fascination – an assassin at the service of the Ouyangs?
“I will not speak of this to another living soul, I swear” he managed between sobs. Hands folded, head bowed, he begged for his life to be spared.
The last of confetti vanished on its way to the ground, leaving a cloud of smoke behind. If you looked for a little while, you could still make out the path the fire bursts had followed, your eyes still picturing the fireworks like they were still there. People below began to disperse, the kids still lingering wanting to stay out of the house a little longer as patient parents waited.
The placid scene was broken by a loud thud. The quick minded ran to where it came from, as the slow realizers followed. He lay lifeless on the ground, his tears frozen in his eyes. It was the seventh suicide in the last five months. It was plain to see that something was not right if only someone tried to string things together, but the unsuspecting villagers only gasped and covered the eyes of the children nearby.