Charlotte quietly forced herself to swallow the gruel. It was the only meal of the day, and none of the inmates could afford to be deprived of it. Charlotte had been brought with her mother the slave labour concentration camp just one day earlier. The cruel labour, poor sanitation, sick people was something which Charlotte had not even imagined. Already, their hands were bruised with the heavy loads they had to carry.
“I have to leave this place. I don’t want my mother to die in such a merciless place.” Charlotte whispered to her friend, Beth, as they shifted the arms and ammunition in wheel carts to the ware houses for repair. “Are you in your senses, Charlotte? You think you could escape so easily. It’s not a piece of cake. It is impossible! Firstly, there is no way out from here. The whole place is surrounded by watch towers and barbed wires. We are in the middle of a dense forest. Secondly, even if you do find a way out, since you’ve been telling me what a genius you were at school, I’m completely sure you’ll be caught red-handed. We are being monitored all the time. Thirdly, when you’ll come clean and relate to your mother the whole plan of escaping, she will be worried sick. You don’t have even a penny to your name. It won’t even benefit you in the long run. What will you and your mother do even if you manage to get out of this sickly camp?” Beth paused as fighter planes zoomed overhead and both the girls covered their ears due to the noise. “Beth, freedom is what I crave for. I believe that God helps those who help themselves. Nobody until now has even tried to do this task that I am thinking of. Even if I do get caught, I know I’ll be tortured to death but at least I won’t have the guilt inside me that I did not try to do something to save my mother and myself. I believe that I’ll die a happy person, who has attempted to acquire freedom. I’m completely sure, that with determination, I’ll be able to accomplish this mission. When I grow up, I’ll certainly work for the establishment of peace.” Finishing her speech, eleven-year-old Charlotte went off to her mother and turned a deaf ear to Beth’s continuous protest.
The next day, the director of the concentration camp was holding an assembly. All the guards from the watch-towers descended to hear. The inmates were supposed to sit under the scorching heat of the sun on the hot sand and listen without a word. The guards squatted under the shade of a ware house. Charlotte had convinced her mother to agree to her plan. Her mother was still unsure. She had said, “We will be in hot water, my dear. Still, I believe that God will help us so I agree to support you.” Hearing this, Charlotte had hugged her mother and cried.
They sat at the edge of the gathering and as the director sat down to have a glass of water and shout at the sleeping guards to wake up, they took the chance to slip away, unnoticed by the guards. Lying close to the ground, they crawled painfully towards the barbed wires. Reaching the fence, Charlotte and her mother began to scrap away at the hard ground beneath the wires with metal pieces they had managed to steal from the ware house. Soon, a small pit had formed, lowering the ground level beneath the wires. Charlotte was on tender hooks as they were digging out the pit. Her mother clasped her hand and gestured to Charlotte to go first. Charlotte lay flat on the ground and squirmed underneath the wires. The pit gave more space to squirm through. Soon, she had come out on the other side. Her mother followed her and Charlotte kept pulling her to help her out. Both of them knew that there was no time to celebrate. They ran like the wind through the trees. It was of no concern that their hands were getting scratched. They stumbled but kept running. “Stop, my dear, stop. I think the coast is clear now.” Charlotte’s mother said as she hugged her and both of them cried uncontrollably. They sat down, panting. A squirrel looked down quizzically and Charlotte smiled at it. While holding her mother’s hand, she admired the beauty of nature and silently thanked God, praying for the others who were suffering. It felt as if she was in seventh heaven.