Danish Danial on the staircase shot.

And When His Shield Broke

And there was once a boy from the East Coast. Who had dark brown eyes. And jet black hair, that covered his head like the branches of the palm trees from his hometown. With his black hair, he donned his black rectangular eyeglasses that complemented his lightly-tanned face like grills to a window. And he had a wide smile that never failed to frown be it in the darkest storms of the night or in the brightest sun of the day.

But what nobody else did know was that wherever he went, he would carry along his shield in the pocket of his dark blue jeans. He would carry it to school into his classes, downtown as he hung out with his friends, and into his bed when it gets cold after 10. His shield served as his only protection. His only protection from his enemies; the canon fire, the swords, and the torch arrows that lay siege to him every single day. And at the end of every attack, the shield would always remind him in an assuring and calming voice, “I will always be there to protect you.”

And by the belt of Orion in the equatorial night sky, and the monsoon clouds of the South China Sea, the shield never failed to defend the boy; the one person it unconditionally loved and supported for years. However, the love wasn’t surprisingly mutual. The two never looked eye-to-eye with each other. The boy was pretty much discarded by the cracks on the shield’s metal plate and the blows it took to make sure that he was able to breathe through life safely and soundly. And never did he ever thank the shield for its service to him as his protector because he knew the shield was merely observing its God-given responsibility.

But then came an unfortunate time, when the boy’s Golden Age had begun to fade away, and the invasions and attacks became stronger and stronger. And although the hordes came pounding and knocking on his walls, the shield held firm unwillingly to surrender. But as the walls begun to crumble, realisation hit the boy like a twenty-pound sledgehammer — the shield he held on to was not going to hold out any longer. In desperation, the boy closed his eyes and waved his shield in the air knowing that it was his only last line of defence against the invasion. Wave after wave the shield took the blows of longswords that mercilessly strike at it, and the arrows that puncture through its already cracked-filled weakened skin. And this was when not even hope and love could keep the shield together. And when a clamorous thud of canon fire was heard, the boy opened his eyes to only see ashes in his hands. The shield he had held firmly in his hands for years had been broken.

Danish Danial on the staircase shot.

And when his shield broke, nothing else could protect him from the continued attacks. And all he did was vigorously spread his arms, looking left and right in disarray trying to pick up the ashes of the shield and hoping that it would come back to shape. And all of this was pointless and the boy knelt down crying burning tears of hopelessness as the attackers crawled their way into his heart and begun hammering it down ferociously. As cracks expanded like creases to paper on his heart, and as spears impaled through like sticks to a fruit, the boy did nothing and only stood there hoping for a miracle to happen. As his heart was starting to break, the dark brown eyes had begun to turn blood red. His jet black hair that covered his head began to shed like trees in autumn. His eyeglasses dismantled into countless pieces. And for after a long time, his wide smile began to frown.

But he knew deep inside the very same heart of his, he shouldn’t let the attackers break him. He knew that if he just stood there, the cracks on his late shield’s metal plate and the arrow blows it took was all for nothing. And he didn’t want to disappoint the shield that loved and cared for him all of these years and continue the legacy that his shield fought and protected for.

And by the belt of Orion in the equatorial night sky, and the monsoon clouds of the South China Sea, he stood back up, clenched his fists and fought back the invaders. His enemies went down one by one, repelled away, and started to retreat. And as he saw the invaders run away like an army of ants from a gust of wind, he realised that all this while he was able to protect himself and he took his late shield all for granted. And finally he glanced at the ashes of his shield, with love and tenderness, and in the same calming voice, he replied, “I knew you were always there to protect me.”

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