A Short Novel

Something I never completed. This was back in 2009, when my whole world came tumbling down.

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Preamble

Dagawa knew his plight too well. He was the first prototype of a prisoner of war in the reenacted rivalry between the angels, temporally holding revolvers and grenades and not their accustomed harps and chalices and demons, who in their perfect maquillage of humanness were prowling with chameleon-like skill and precision.  The duopoly of the world was obvious. Every human had their affiliations with one group or the other, some in their overt admittance and other in their stealthily existences, walking traitors for a polarized cause. Never did either group fathom the existence of Dagawa, a creature mostly human but with an aura that was indescribable and unique, an untraceable hybrid between a centaur and a unicorn, with a tanned Indian skin and a crew cut, strolling on the hind legs demonstrating his superior human prowess but with a stallion like energy that oozed in all his undertakings.  Humans were ideologically and philosophically existing in an obvious dichotomy, the doo gooders with their smuggling operations of ammunition for the operation ‘Fighter Angels on Earth’, the codename for the mission to tackle the human-inflicted tragedies of the contemporary world and the villains, who in their existences were open to all possibilities of social, sexual and professional life, with the exception of paramount ‘freedom’, which they journeyed to extinguish in haste.   Freedom was the one barrier that the villains could not control. Freedom, in its essence, opened an uncharted getaway of human activity that was not programmed to their liberal ways of life and this was a setback to the ‘progressive’ idealogy that the villains embraced.  One common trait both parties had in common was their steal-witted stubbornness to reach their goals and Dagawa presented an omnipresent danger to both ways of life.

Dagawa was born to simple parents, both erudit agriculturists in their own accounts, with paper qualifications and a vast wealth of experience charting the occupants of paddy fields and rubber plantations. In spite of their farming roots, they had both made the transition from juvenile field farm hands to desk agriculturists, his father to the varnished veneer of his cluttered office desk and his mother to the graffiti-laden scratch pads of teenage classrooms. In spite of the obvious desertion of their noble farming backgrounds, they were never for a moment disheartened about the potential impact agriculture played in food security and in the economic sustainability of farmers.  Their spirit lived on in Dagawa who, in earnest, believed that he was destined for a career in humanitarian agriculture, where his decisions would resonate on to the plates of African children to mould their survival, and thus sustain their futures as productive human beings.  With this mind frame, Dagawa left the shores of his adopted Australia, in pursuit of a greater cause, to dramatically enhance the yield potential of a rice plant by improving the capture of carbon for metabolic needs, to feed the many innocent faces that repeatedly haunted his thoughts. He was a warrior in his own crusade, a naïve dreamer in a cruel world, a catamaran in the turbulent Asian seas, merely hovering over the surface during the most catastrophic of storms. In spite of the rampant waves and the stormy skies, Dagawa steered his boat to the best of his ability, to navigate through the waves to reach a milder version of the professional el-dorado of his heart.  This is his story.

Early Years

Dagawa, in spite of his fairytale imagination and his exceedingly unquenched thirst for knowledge, looked forward to the holidays, three in number in this part of the South Asian coastline. Aurora always welcomed Dagawa with a westward glance and an enchanting smile and he knew that the converging rays that gently stroked his closed eyelids were merely the radiance of her face embracing his. A smile would slowly conjure on Dagawa’s face as his face would charter the ends of his head pillow and a murmur that would metamorphose in to an extended trumpet of a vocal yawn would break the silence. This was his entrance to a yet another holi-day – a day that was usually blessed both with routine and an assortment of surprises from a handful of sources. Dagawa rose attentively that day and in a whisker was happily  brushing away his creamy-white teeth in a jagged motive force of his right forearm but in his imagination, he was far away, up in the trees or playing a game of street cricket.

The trees or the occupants of the trees were his first conquest of the day. He would energetically slam open the front door and rush outside to count the number of eager squirrels ringing around in their usual fervor and gladly pouncing on any morceau of delectable finger food that could be found in any of their delicatessens.  In the post-monsoon months, the tree tops were like the Ethiopian wastelands, bare in food supplies and needing intervention from magnanimous humans. Dagawa answered their call with bread crumbs that were supplied to the junction supplier, at the divergence point of an arborious nature, where the squirrels would drop in to help themselves or to take a bundle to the hollow-dwellers and nestlings. Dagawa used to watch with awe at the workmanlike ethos of the squirrel populations that were both sharp- eyed and acute-nostriled for the food crumbs as their scooped them down in a flurry to flourish in the petite carbohydrate delights. Admiration was short-lived though, as the rings were dwarfed by the call of his mother to gulp down a cup of full cream milk, a paradoxical anchor that was propelling Dagawa’s development to a curious and buoyant young man. A cup of milk was always supplemented with a cup of knowledge that was hand delivered by a punctual newspaper vendor.  Dagawa , at the sound of the knowledge call would rush to the gate and pounce on to the newspaper and automatically, as if there was a heritable force that was guiding his unfazed gaze, would read the journal from the last to the first page, as his first area of interest was –  and as he would get to know later on in his life what would be an everlasting association – sports. Sport was the one subject that Dagawa could not have enough of.  Cricket would be the crown jewel but soccer, basketball, tennis, badminton, athletics and a host of other sports, the rubies and emeralds.  Two pages of sports would give way to a television page that would inform him the time slots for ‘He-man and Shera’, ‘Scooby and Scrabby doo’ and ‘Thundercats’ and a one page further, he would silently sneak a view at the advertised films at the cinema where a many of the movies were  ‘adults only’ productions at shady cinemas. At the single-digit years of age, politics rarely made sense and the first few pages were mere glances at the then ‘not-so-obvious’.

Breakfast was a mélange of traditional flour recipes that came in clumps, strings and flattened discs innately Sri Lankan and the English repertoire of processed meat products and eggs in scrambles or in a bovine’s anatomy. The maitre was not only the master chef but the only chef, creating a kitchen monopoly that was both intimidating and delicious, where neatness and pigging out were paradoxical pre-requisites.

The Present

The Ghotoms had converted the world in to a twilight zone, where shadows were the guiding nuance to the evil that circulated from the aorta to the atria, life blood in a mission to eliminate any attempt to propagate ‘goodwill’ – the spontaneous kind devoid of ulterior motive nor personal advantages. Dagawa would remember the days when the shadows were merely suitors, in the chase for the radiance of humans that used to flourish in these lands, but never caught up, to fuse nor to change the light within. Humans were not devoid of blame though. At the end of the 20th century, a massive avalanche of ‘information’ covered the human race, accompanied by winds of change that not only blew past Gorky park but to the backyards of inhabitants of all seven continents. Information overload, although seen as ‘en vogue’ in people’s quest for knowledge, would cause more harm than good, as humans inevitably were the recipients of a deluge of misinformation in the form of the many carriages of the grapevine express, and consequently spawned an uncontrollable culture of suspicion, judgment, harassment, prejudice and manipulation – Yes information could be the origin of all these misdeeds. It was a wise man that said ‘knowledge is power’ and the ghotoms saw light of day in this climate of excessive knowledge, especially that of the personal kind.

Ghotoms were tech savy with high powered surveillance instruments, satellites that could hover meters above your roof and cameras that could zoom in micrometer accuracy to even your private parts and follow every twitch and movement, however innocent and involuntary it may be. The power to rule over even the most minor of movements would give them a range of powers, as they were able to control human sexual activity and consequently eliminate ‘favorable’ gene pools from propagating to the next generation – Yes this was the new front of ‘sex, lies and videotapes’.  Social engineering of the big brother kind, where manipulation of the mind took precedence over vasectomies and birth control. This was an era when bananas were packed from Costa Rice to mainland Europe in unused condoms as human sexual activity dwindled in the face of the Ghotom culture. Humans were mere slaves of technology and the prowling eyes.

A handful of humans had in the past valiantly tried to escape the clutches of the Ghotoms. All had failed since even with a ‘fast car’, there was no way of outpacing the satellite transmission – No Tracy, even If I had a fast car, I certainly won’t be able to take you anywhere. The humans that unsuccessfully tried to escape the iron grip of technology failed and were doomed to a life of isolation, where many took the fast route out of misery and other let nature take its expedited course. Occasionally, pacts were formed, where individuals would take the last breaths with their bosom pal Dr Killorkian by their side. Ghotoms didn’t mind that though since assisted journeys to six feet under were still sound methods of reducing the genetic pool of humans.

Dagawa knew all too well that his downfall would come someday. However, just like everything else in his life, there was a wedged dichotomy that was pumping directly in to the chambers of his heart. On what side, there was the tragic loss of all connections that had spawned from all his undertakings on this planet, both human and mystic, and from the many pulmonary spheres, there was a smear metamorphosing in to many Frans Hals brushstrokes. Yes, there was an echoing rupture of the vocal chords that could be silently captured in the masterful movements of the brush, the pearly gates to Dagawa’s journey ahead. He knew very well that he was not the victim of a finely aimed arrow shattering his tarsals but a misunderstood journeyman carrying the sins of a billion Hods. Yes, the judgment twig was deceivingly viscous and Dagawa knew too well that it could well be his chosen fate.

His journey would carry him to the many halls of Asgard, in their many hues, a rugged terrain where his destiny would be set. The Valkyries were just as he imagined, savage creatures guarding the spirit of the one that was crucified by the two-legged tyrants. The first site of Valhalla brought an overwhelming sense of contentment to Dagawa, the type that only the virgin landscape of this magnificent structure could bring. He would scamper like a mountain goat but with a snow leapord’s agility to surmount and finally reach his doorways of eternal bliss. This was Dagawa’s promiseland. He was a forlorn dreamer in France but now an immortalized highlander in these mountainous terrains of land they used to call New France. Even as he stepped on to the summit, he could taste the maple syrup streaming in from the vast unknowns. No sap to extract only the wind to caress with the tongue. This was heaven on earth, no pavements of gold but buffed ice shelves and crystal clear water, no saints or angels but herding bison and moose.

As Dagawa strolled through to the rocky fortress, many thoughts of his many fore fathers that were sacrificed in the name of an invisible justice, streamed in to his mind. He knew very well that his fate was not determined by the millions of Hods but by the iron hands that rocked the contemporary cradles of civilizations. The Hods were only guilty of one crime, that of paramount ignorance. Ignorance was a trait that has paradoxically undergone group evolution. As andro-computers had been installed in every adobe, the indifferent dwellers had lost most forms of group behavior and intra-species communication and were solely dependent on newsfeeds from the Reltih, the supreme head of the Ghotoms. The newsfeeds were the only source of information and all opinions and feelings that fertilized in the Hods’ increasingly-depleting minds stemmed from these misdirected information packets. The evolution of the machine was the devolution of the psyche.

Traps were set for Dagawa everywhere he went. At home, at the work place, at the pub and even when he was strolling down the alley ways. The actions were time-coordinated and conducted with sharp precision. The stimuli were changed on a temporal manner to assess the many involuntary twitches and thoughts that were planted by the continuous pressure of being watched and judged at the same time. Judgment evolved to be the prince of contemporary crimes. Stealthy, viscous and unforgiving. Dagawa, however knew very well that he had enough proof and counter-arguments to stem the unceasing waves of judgments and deep down he knew that there were many allies, who were watching with a cautious eye at the happenings of his life. There would be a time, although maybe temporal, of minor victories against this supreme tyrant.  Time was on his hands and so was fate.

On that day, Dagawa took the train to the Hocalty station. While at the station, an unassuming stranger came and spoke to him. He was a youth in his mid 20s and appeared to be from a Sub-Saharan African country. In an instant, Dagawa remembered the many times that he had been mistaken for a tanned skin African –  In many people’s minds, natives of Dagawa’s Serendipo were much smaller in stature and rarely came out from their ghettos or comfort zones. Dagawa didn’t want to make the same error in judgment and casually asked the youth of his birth origins. The youth turned to be from the Matabele (Ndebele) tribe and an aspiring student who has escaped the many catastrophes of his motherland. He possessed a friendly demeanor and spoke in a typically expressive effort-ridden African voice. As he was engaging in this conversation, Dagawa couldn’t help notice the South Asian man who was eavesdropping on his conversation. It was déjà-vu and in its repetitive multiplicity. Once again, Dagawa’s mind wandered off to Magellan Land where he had spent well over a year as a research scientist in a quaint university town.

His many friends and colleagues at Magellen Land were very protective of him. In their esprits, he was a naïve explorer, on the brink of an impending disaster. Dagawa remembered the times, he would go out to socialize at bars and restaurants in town and in an instant there would be angels, from across the globe – Kangarooland, Himalayaland, Bharathland, Bangalaland and even the natives of Magellen land – hovering around with their misguided halos. Although Dagawa cherished his freedom, he knew that the intentions of the angels were of the magnanimous nature.

The backbone of Ghotoms judgments, were twitches and thoughts, both governed by the autonomous nervous system – involuntary actions that were baseless and provoked by panic. This didn’t stop the Ghotoms from pursuing Dagawa with a cheetah-like intensity. The depletion of mental capacity has propagated all around and the Ghotoms were making their journeys towards the zeniths of stupidity – Dagawa would find out much later on that he was the only pawn in this chess board when black and white knights ushered in nightmares and kings and queens sat on thrones behind camera manipulating his mental meadows of activity.

 

 

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Author: meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, American Journal of Poetry, Kitaab, Eastlit and Ravens Perch. He mixes science with poetry for a living, when what matters is the expression of both DNA and words into something serendipitous. Although an Australian citizen, Dilantha is domiciled in Sri Lanka, his country of birth.

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