Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Messages to the Leader

Shahid Rafiq Tarar was ensconced deep inside the Pavlov Institute. Here he reminisced about when this institute was bright, new and gleaming. Then it was teaming with students, with researchers and academic discussion of the most vibrant kind. Then it was something to be part of an institution named after a famous Earth scientist. The institutes' path breaking research into human and other life forms behaviour had long since ceased. Tarar was too old and cantankerous to consider moving and so he spent most of his weary final days deep inside one of the institutes' bunkers. There he might elude the worst effects of the drones.

The bunker he had chosen was large and almost empty being built when the Institute was first starting its decline. No star light could penetrate the kilometres of rock and the artificial light was extremely dull. To Tarar shame everything was covered in dust and he was too old – and too proud – to demean himself cleaning. Sitting at a makeshift desk he was writing a message in the ancient style, a style that was once fashionable well before the institute was ever conceived. Tarar was still unskilled in this ancient art of writing with Biro on paper.

Tarar knew it was no protection at all, having known and loved The Greatest Poet of the Old World: Garai Kalai. His great friend Shahid had also known Kalai. And he had been assassinated deep inside the Pavlov Institute many Earth years ago. Being a man of science and well know universally, these were no protection. Secular men of science were waking up in the middle of the night to a heavy knock on the door, or the sound of the door crashing down and droids pouring in unannounced. Shahid Rafiq Tarar could have no illusions. Even that universal reputation in behavioural psychology was no protection, certainly not from those despising Earth science. And a stream of messages to the Empire was bound to be misinterpreted.

Tarar had all the fearless intransigence of old age. So he continued to write messages to The Glorious Leader 0x01AF. Why had unmanned Empire drones been firing rockets at Manglouri homes? With every unmanned attack killing more civilians he wrote another message to The Glorious Leader.

Why had a pre-dawn strike destroyed a house resulting in 12 Manglour killed and another 14 wounded?

Why was an Empire predator drone firing missiles at a house in Sambat village in the tribal area of Manglour? Tarar had many eyewitness accounts from residents who had seen the attack. At least 10 Manglour were killed.

The list went on and Tarar continued to write his messages. What about the rockets fired from an Empire drone killing 13 Manglour at an alleged militant hideout? Certainly some casualties were women and children.

Rumours abounded that many drones were launched from within Manglour itself. Could this possibly be true?

If Glorious Leader 0x01AF ever read these myriad messages, he never replied. At last 0x01AF's term of office ended and Tarar tried writing to the following and supposedly more liberal Glorious Leader. His messages now began: “Most Esteemed and Exultant Glorious Leader 0x01B0...” Again he received no reply. Perhaps mere messages were the wrong way to go about things. Perhaps what was needed was something more inventive, a perceptive gift that would attract The Glorious Leader's attention.

After every drone that killed more Manglouri civilians Tarar tried to find the right object to include with his message:

A small chipped pot from the time of Emperor Harsha.

A fragment of rubble from the bombed out home of a young Manglour family that had burned to death.

A message to Tarar written in the very hand of Manglour's greatest poet: Garai Kalai. This was Tarar's most prized possession and he now deeply regretted parting with it.

He sent a rare Ingaroderai skin, a creature almost extinct, and a pressed Lewganai, the most fragrant of flowers.

Last month, when the home of a wedding party was hit and six Manglour died, he sent his wife's old wedding dress. She had kept it all these years, the fine cloth meticulously wrapped – and he still dreaded her discovering it gone.

He sent a wild Koray's feather, an ugly bird like creature with the most exquisite tail feathers, and the seed from a Derai tree, prized for its pure oil.

Recently an Empire refuelling transport had managed, through sheer incompetence, to stall near Manglour. It was then forced to make an emergency landing in the Manglour tribal area. There the Manglour scurried to salvage what they could. This involved a huge risk as the fuel was completely unsuitable for domestic purposes, being highly inflammable and extremely toxic. But what could the Manglour do? Such basics were in extremely short supply: they needed to cook and light their dwellings. Tarar was surprised at the ingenuity the Manglour applied in making use of this unexpected gift. The Empire drones, most vindictively, attacked their own refuelling transport killing hundreds, possibly thousands, of Manglour civilians who were still swarming and scavenging over the wreck.

Incensed Tarar tore a page from an old Gamon handwritten in ancient Manglour. He had to be extremely careful when sending this message as the Manglour were extremely jealous of their religious texts. But still the drones kept coming.

It's now obvious these packages were opened by secretaries and flunkies who never once forwarded them to The Glorious Leader. The offerings which appeared worthless were quickly thrown in the trash. Others were catalogued and stored alongside with other gifts from sycophants and office seekers. It's unlikely that The Glorious Leader 0x01B0 ever saw Tarar's precious gifts. We can only wonder how history might have changed if, in 3010, The Glorious Leader 0x01B0 had held in his hands a bright red chadar scarf that had been richly embroidered in Earth gold. Then, just for a moment, had spotted the small speck of blue blood that would move him to tears.

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