By Talib Gibran
The night was deep. So deep that only hooting owls and crawling little mammals could be felt around. Ali slowly rose from bed as he suppressed his breath for even the littlest sound in that wee hour could trigger a rat’s squeak, a gecko’s click or even striating ants; every noise blocked to strike out any possibility of interrupting the gentle sounds that waft from beating hearts.
The road was tiny. So tiny that he would occasionally veer either side as he staggered away from what he considered his hurdles. Joseph Stalin says death is the solution to all problems. No man, no problem. Maybe not all or many but one man has to end today. It was those nights that suddenly make you see the beauty of creation; of life and living. There is nothing more beautiful than these but it is hard to accept or even ignore, if you only notice it in others and not your wretched self. The road was slick, the skies displaying hypnotic iridescence coupled with the pleasant petrichor that pervaded the roads, following a night of heavy rains and heralding gloom.
The ocean was more generous in showing shiny bubbles as the waves repeatedly hit the sandy shores. Ali braced the chilly water by slackly dropping his left foot half-way in….and then withdrew with droplets steadily splattering back. With his doubtful face visibly telegraphing what grinded him inside from the word-go, he slowly put the inflatable unicorn on the water and started paddling off into darkness. Ali was clear on his path and intention; paddle away on the high seas until he reached the confluence and then, cleansing his impoverished mind and malnourished body, contentedly give in to the cold pangs of death. But, as he paddled towards the end of his problems, one big wave hit the unicorn….and then he tumbled off.
Whether it was by an angelic whale or an already satisfied shark, Ali saw himself thrown on the shores. Mission failed. But, just when he wanted to try again, a man-like creature attired in a long white gown appeared. The creature, Ali thought, was an angel and it uttered some divine lines: “Why would you want to end your life now? There is no need because the time has come.” No sooner the creature disappeared than Ali took off running at breakneck speed. He is now running away from the same death he was running towards a while ago.
Suicide is common. Statistics shows 1 suicide in every 40 seconds and it will be 20 seconds by 2020; that is about one million people every year. Tell me, doest God need to end the world?
I dream it. I see it. The world is finally ending and the only sad part is, it is ending while I am alive. Forget about the Masih ad-Dajjal; that evil anti-messianic figure frighteningly mentioned in Islamic eschatology but, the truth is, even that very Islamic apocalyptic literature which rather perfectly described the Armageddon failed to warn us it is upon us.
Look around and tell me there is something worth saving. I don’t see it. All I see are countries forcing themselves on other countries, dictating their affairs and forcing them to do or say things ex cathedra. Even foreign policy or diplomacy, a word invented purposely to make humans appear more civilized than any other creature, has failed with countries bombing each other while at the same time having their diplomats locked in dialogue somewhere in a fancy hotel. In fact, that modified diplomacy has been re-modified because Russia, a country that poses the only credible threat to Uncle Sam never mind that fat boy Kim Jong-un’s North Korea, has appointed a famous martial artist, Steven Seagal, as special representative in US-Russia relations.
Vladimir Putin must have watched Seagal in Driven to Kill how he so masterfully, as an ex-Russian mobster, sought justice and revenge for his daughter’s murder. Do I need to go further? I will anyway. Diplomacies are failing so miserably…that in no time, negotiators will have fist fights before bombs come. Putin saw it coming; watch how many bones Seagal will break if things get ugly on a US-Russia dialogue table. Except, to make the negotiations so ominous, America should also appoint Arnold alias Commando. With all the ever rising death tolls, we will all die before the world ends. But i try to understand people killing people; what scares me is people killing themselves for various reasons. Imagine, someone feels so suffocated in this world that they want to go somewhere they have no idea about. No, in fact it doesn’t worry me; what worries me is animals committing suicide because the human world is inhabitable. Few days ago, I watched with amusement a little mouse climb a tall mango tree. The little thing climbed until it was barely visible and then, it looked both sides as if it was avoiding any potential saviors, plunged down onto the ground. The fall was painful.
I stood over it and then looked up to see if there was any predator after it but I didn’t see even an insect. First time I have seen an animal try to commit suicide. It didn’t hang itself like humans normally do and it failed just like Ali did but it made me realise how much destruction we have made to this world that even little animals can’t live in it.
There was so much unnecessary outcry and drama when the new government wanted to execute a plan by the old government to replace monkeys with something else that looks like development other than monkeys. As harmless as a dove, Ado couldn’t withstand the pressure from the country’s new breed of activists who are ready to die, genuinely or otherwise, to make sure the indivisible rights of even charcoals are respected. The reaction was swift but organised with banners and T-shirts doing the actual protest. I was sitting in my little corner as events unfolded but, when the pressure mounted to an unbearable point, I quickly scribbled something for Ado to address the nation:
It is difficult for me to read from a teleprompter because no matter how slow it is scrolled, I still can’t catch up to the speed. That is why I only do it on important occasions like Christmas and Eid.
“This morning, some individuals have interrupted the demolition exercise at Monkey Park saying the monkeys have also decided. That it is also the monkeys’ huuman rights to be at the park. Monkeys don’t have huuman rights; they have monkey rights and it is their president who protects those rights not me. Monkeys cannot decide to live with humans; that decision isn’t for them to make.
“But being president of this country comes with ability to communicate with animals and the underworld. You wouldn’t understand because this is an experience only three of us have; the first president didn’t discuss much about it but my immediate predecessor, Fangbili, was frequently in contact with Jinns who would not only vote for him but report Gambians to him after violating their Jinn rights. We can all remember when he claimed that an unidentified Jinn had lodged a complaint to him that the Jangjangbureh people normally ease themselves into the river or throw cigarette studs in it.
“Those Jinns have presumably gone on exile too but the monkeys have also told me that they don’t need anyone to protest on their behalf. I am president of Gambians and the last time I checked, monkeys didn’t campaign or vote for me. While we were toiling and boiling to unseat a sit-tight madman, they were jumping from one tree to another eating all edible fruits.
“I am tasked as president to create jobs and build the infrastructure of the country. Now tell me if building a presidential villa, two five-star hotels, a state-of-the-art conference centre, etc., is not both creating jobs and an infrastructural facelift. I think Gambians are too much excited and overwhelmed by this newfound freedom that all they think is to protest even when government sprays mosquitoes.
“A friend of mine, who by the way is a president too because they are now my only friends who would advise me without asking for favours, said I need to have some teeth to bite my disgruntled citizens. For your information, I have hired the best dentist from Baddibu to sharpen my teeth.
Being a political animal, I have recognised some elements among you who are engaged in subterranean shenanigans to torpedo our democracy. We worked so hard for this with irreparable sacrifice; don’t let anyone hijack it for their own interest. Even wild animals have been translocated all over the world to allow infrastructural development or to protect them. It doesn’t mean we don’t care about monkeys. India plans to relocate tigers to Cambodia; South Africa schemes to airlift rhinos to Australia; Gambia intends to transfer monkeys to Abuko. Period. In fact, I am putting a D2000 bounty on every monkey. Don’t kill them, just catch one monkey and you get D2000. Work will resume at the park tomorrow because we are running out of time ahead of the summit. Let me see anyone protesting.”
Of course he refused to read that on television; he chickened out and allowed the activists have their way. The securities were withdrawn and the monkeys got to stay. I was shocked just like I was when APRC expressed appreciation to Ado and his government for their “invaluable contribution towards the demise of Asombi Bojang.” Smh. Wars have been fought for less. But I am not surprised. That is exactly what you expect from a country whose young people are failing exams in their numbers and the ministry is sugarcoating it. And instead of discussing such pressing matters as a nation, the entire country has been foolishly engaged in whether or not a university degree should be a minimum criterion for president. I wonder when that has ever been a determinant of anyone’s intelligence. How amazing! There are thousands of Gambians with university degrees messing up in every sector; they neither have the intelligence nor the moral uprightness to avoid that which is bad and evil. I rather have an honest half-educated president (or not educated at all) than a morally corrupt so-called intellectual squandering our meagre resources smiling in a suit. There is nothing noble about this stupid elitism that breeds nothing but condescension. We have all become politicians; only looking to the next election and not the next generation. I am getting upset. I am out….