In the world that I am in, I don’t have the luxury of taking a curtain calls, hearing applause or congratulatory statements. My career doesn’t give me the opportunity to be known to those around me in any personal manner. Everything that emerges from my mouth is a tale wrapped in a wealth of knowledge and experience that can’t easily be easily unraveled without the fine toothcomb that very few people possess, and that number decreases with each passing day.
My life is spent in the shadows, unknown to those I am watching, unnoticed by those who are my targets and unmemorable to those who have nothing to do with my objectives. I may be inconsequential to them, but as I log their interactions, conversations and movements, they never know their time to die is racing toward them that much faster.
I am a specialist in the art of destruction. I decimate a target’s mind before I take their soul. I am trained to make them doubt everything they think, feel and believe, to question every allegiance and association before I rip life from their body. Sometimes with a brutality that would horrify the common onlooker, and sometimes with a covert strike while they sit having a meal with family and friends. I live by words like goals, objectives, and missions.
But I didn’t start out this way. I was just like you… once. I had a childhood. I had teenage years of rebellion. I had a mother who tried to salvage my gentle spirit from the man who started the transformation. The man who stole my childhood and forced me to live in the image he had created in his mind. The demons tore at my soul and ravaged my spirit until I found my direction, a channel for my re-emergence. It all started the day I signed my name to the contract pledging my life and service to the protection of an ideal greater than any single person.
I was broken into singular parts and re-assembled into the most lethal form of prior self. I was trained to leave humanity at the door, find the target, gather what I could and then eliminate them in the most efficient manner possible. I am not like you anymore. I don’t share your mannerisms anymore. Hesitation has been replaced with patience. Morality substituted with duty. And humanity has disappeared with the blood and bodies that I have seen fall, both my own brothers and the targets that we hunt with a vengeance to do onto them as they have done onto us. No, I am not like you anymore. Not even in shades.
I am known by many incarnations, learning to be something I am not. It is the nature of my life, my work and my continued existence on this planet that I be able to draw people near while keeping my own emotional and personal distance. Being able to live this way is a character trait that I learned as a child for the environment that I was forced to grow in and has become the singular greatest advantage that I have achieved. I am who I need to be for each situation, for each interaction, for each individual, without remorse, without questioning.
When my superiors asked me to draft this, I was unsure of the purpose, unable to grasp the importance and magnitude. We don’t take curtain calls. We are not celebrated as individuals, but as a service. We are not part, but one machine that moves in fluid motion together to defend and protect a nation from threats seen and perceived.
You will know me by many names. Many personalities. You will hear whispers, catch glimpses from the corner of your eye of a person that seems familiar but you will never know that I am or that I was.
Today, you will know me as Kamal, an operative in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence division. Tomorrow, I will not be as you see me today and all of this will no longer matter, for it is just a legend crafted to fit this situation, this time, this requirement, because it is the nature of my life, my work and my continued existence on this planet.