Monday
May022016

Genesis

Kristine Ong Muslim


 

We lived in the city and I thought you drew lampposts, telephone lines, the long, rusty rods scattered in construction sites. Your voice insisting, no, no, these are trees.
- Conchitina Cruz, Dark Hours

 

Inside the house, there lived a boy, and inside the boy, there lived a pulsing restless creature that would someday outgrow its boy-suit, a pulsing restless creature that would someday venture into the world—or what is left of the world. A boy, who is not quite a boy, for he is more or less a ticking bomb—the explosive material is the creature growing inside of him while the triggering device is the elastic stuff he clutches in his right hand.

The boy-suit-clad boy is just like any other boy in this world, except there is no way for him to leave his house. Each time he walks past the doorway that leads to the yard, he finds himself standing again inside one of the rooms of his house. The same thing happens if he jumps off from any of the open windows.

Outside this house is a yard, a yard where many trees grow all year round. Knowing the kinds of trees that grow in this yard is not important. What's important is the fact that there are too many of them in the yard surrounding the house where the boy lives. Beyond this—beyond this house with a yard full of trees, trees planted close together so that their leafy branches form a wide canopy that shields the ground from the sun and beyond this house housing a boy that had a creature growing inside of him—are lampposts, telephone lines, the long, rusty rods scattered in construction sites, the planet becoming hotter and hotter at an accelerated rate, human civilization way past its expiry date.

Once in a while, this boy looks out of the window of the house, or believes he has the ability to look out of the window, because the view, as well as the line of sight in all possible directions, is completely blocked by trees. The boy sees only an illusion of a city, a city that is nothing but a late-stage manifestation of mankind's desire to ransack and rearrange the natural environment. Of course, the city people can't see the boy as much as the boy can't see the city people through the impossibly dense foliage. Some of them would assume that the boy has long since disappeared like a splendid creature of myth, when in fact it was them who disappeared, not the boy. Some would also say we all live inside this boy. Some would say we live outside this boy. But regardless of where we reside with respect to the boy, one thing is for certain: the boy is burdened. He is saddled by his house, a house that, for some reason, serves as his physical body.

Out there past the city, out there where loneliness thrives, an ark is constructed in anticipation of the flood myth. The ark's hull has yet to be stabilized. And because the telephone lines are still intact, any man from the city can call the boy, warn him of the impending flood, ask him when he will shed the boy-suit, ask him what he sees from his vantage point that's completely obstructed by a yard full of trees. A boy, who is not quite a boy, for he is more or less a ticking bomb, will respond in kind. He will describe in no uncertain terms what he sees from his vantage point. He will talk about lampposts, telephone lines, the long, rusty rods scattered in construction sites, the planet becoming hotter and hotter at an accelerated rate, human civilization way past its expiry date. He will have a name for all of these. He will call them trees.