Saturday, September 18, 2021

Tabada: Harvest moon


THE first dictator had an attachment to windows that would be reverential if he had been a spiritual man. When he looked out of any window in the Palace, he saw only empty sky.

Infinity. That was the extent of his powers, the interminable, the indefinite, stretching to a point where ambition vied with vision and vision lost every time.

Every window in the Palace confirmed the powers of the first dictator. Or the windows were constructed to affirm the idée fixe of the madman.

But one evening, the first dictator looked out of a window and saw, bathed in the light of the harvest moon, small black figures moving on the ground.

A quaking courtier explained that these antlike figures were farmers harvesting the great man’s grains from the great man’s fields for the great man’s granaries that would be sold back to the great man’s subjects, with taxes and profits going to the great man’s coffers.

The first dictator, after dismissing the excessive possessives, focused on a single grain of truth that did not reside in the sycophantic answer: the moon that lightened the burdens of his subjects.

The Planet Primus, existing in the gnarly nowheres of this narrator’s imagination, was a very cold one. It was not only the harshness of a madman’s rule but biological survival itself was difficult, the moon being the sole source of light sustaining life.

Yet, for as long as the moon was up in the sky, the people left their windowless hovels, worked and created, traveled to their neighbors, bartered, and exchanged information. Full moons brought harvests.

Rising from the sea, a harvest moon was at the brightest phase, its light dwindling as the dark and the cold seeped back and overcame the lunar nimbus until another of the sea’s spawns rose from the waves and took its place in the sky.

For the people, a harvest moon signaled life restarting, survival seeming less harsh in the midst of community. But the first dictator did not like at all the hope the harvest moon ignited in subjects he liked best isolated and abject.

Kept in the dark, people are easier to control.

So the first dictator dictated to the sea, an ally terrified about having its territories encroached and powers diminished, these new terms: with the sky as an arena, each moon rises from the sea as a marauder, hunting down and devouring its older, weaker predecessor, to reign until the sea sends the next adversary for the nightly entertainment.

And that is how the first dictator, just from standing by the windows, drove out the old stories of community and replaced these with the cataclysms of disaster and competition.

Who would have thought windows made such good arsenals?


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