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The Gods of Knowledge (A Short Story)
Before I was a single ‘I’ I was a ‘WE’. I was a plural, a race, and a species. I was the Ahwaks, and a long time ago, we, the Ahwaks, the inheritors of the emerald green scrolls stumbled across an ugly truth. Our glorious culture was a hoax, worth nothing, or a little less than nothing.
Scrolls we had many, but they proved useless, undecipherable, written in a script ancestors forgot to teach, to pass down to us—to the progeny of the Gods of Knowledge.
We didn’t blame them. We knew nothing behind the reason, behind hiding knowledge. We used to say it must have been a tough decision to take, it must have been temporary. Only that we had been living at the threshold of civilization for ages by then, hardly educated and inured to it.
Slaves we had none. We were the salves, working day and night, enduring the mockeries of other masters: masters of wealth, greed, and vice—but never of knowledge. Our numbers were dwindling and we thought we were certainly dying, if not sooner, then probably soon.
A thousand we became, later. No more than that. We accepted our fate and continued living—this time, to curse ancestors at every chore we handled, at every whiplash we wore. Somehow, it was our way to pay tribute to a decadent ancestry.
Time elapsed. For how long? Nobody counted. Now we are only one. Now we are no more a ‘WE’ but a simple ‘I’, alone and facing extinction.
Before I die, I have to put an end to ancestors' knowledge.Their legacy are shelves stuffed full of useless scrolls towards which my guiltless hand extend, tentatively. Layers of dust, wrapping thick the forbidden knowledge, frown upon my intrusion for a while, but only for a while.
My right hand approaches, feels, and seizes a scroll. The other hand ignites it. The scroll fights back, stubbornly, refusing to burn, to give me satisfaction, to quench my appetite for revenge. I grow mad, I ran amok, trying over and over until I notice what my eyes refuse to see.
The scroll resists, but not the script within. Not the emerald green ink, turning liquid. My finger dips into the ink, feels a strange connection, a weird exchange. I take the ink to my tongue, to my sense of taste. It tastes awful, but does it really matter? Is it really a surprise? I feel an urge calling. I feel the need for more. I hold the scroll up; I squeeze it dry, drink its juice, and await something.
The taste is bitter, acerbic, astringent, and… but wait, I use words I never used before? How can this be? Is it the…I dread to think… another word? Yes! An experiment? Why not? I think of another word. Here it comes, but not alone. Others orbits around it—synonyms, derivative words, grammatical categories. The word game entertains me, enlivens my spirit, and gives me hope. I exercise my mind, once, twice, thrice. Every time it works. I’ve become something. Yes something, not someone. I have become a living thesaurus, retrieving as many words as in a bulky dictionary.
“Ha,ha,ha,ha…”I burst into a fit of laughter. I collapse to the ground. Knowledge wasn’t meant to be understood, it was meant to be drunk. I continue to laugh. I begin to cry.
Then I black out.
My eyes open. No more unconscious, but still confused. I must make up for the wasted time. I must resurrect the dead. Scroll after scroll is melt. scroll after scroll is sipped. I grow knowledgeable, becoming another thing: A PLANT, only a plant. How come? I don’t care—a side effect?
Days pass, someone picks me up, takes me away, squeezes me hard, dilutes emerald green ink with water.
“Shaman,” his people call him.
“Heal us,” they implore.
Shaman gives them ‘me’ with water. Shaman gives ‘me’ to his sick people who don’t recover. They aren’t Ahwaks, not like me. But I’m weak, can’t talk with them, can’t read their minds. I hear and listen, language chunks I parcel, reconstruct, force them down again, in Ahwaks this time, in Ahwaks language into their minds. People store Ahwaks words, only a few words—it’s a beginning.
People create a Creole, a midway language between theirs and mine, I continue to labor, to feed their minds. They speak Ahwaks. Soon their mother tongue is history.
The effort is great. Do I fade away? Not yet, but I need sleep. I am exhausted. Awake, I read their minds. They think they are Ahwaks. They think they are Gods of Knowledge. They are cured but mistaken. What happened in my sleep? They want to do something, but I can’t follow. I feel drowsy, and again I fall asleep.
Awake again, it’s a library. They write books, in a dark blue ink, taken from a plant which I don’t remember, which I don’t know. Their script is readable, understandable, and easy to use. Knowledge, they don’t hide. They spread it, in words, concepts and ideologies. It speaks of good as it speaks of bad. It speaks of order and Chaos, reward and punishment, life and death, hell and paradise—new concepts I don’t fully understand.
They send scrolls with emissaries. “Go!” they said. But where? I wonder. They speak of strange names, not Ahwaks. Their names are Osiris and Isis, Zeus and Hera, Enlil and Ninlil and many more. They call themselves gods, their houses pantheons, their dreams commands, and their followers slaves. No more Ahwaks, only gods this time.
A void, a blank, a nothingness follows. Is it afterlife? I hear ‘THEM’ speaking, I hear ‘THEM’ saying awful things.
“Your turn,” says one ‘THEM’
“Knowledge can’t be drunk, it must be learnt. People don’t turn into plants, they turn into ashes. One god is enough, no more gods.” Says another ‘THEM’
“Agreed.” A third ‘THEM’ concedes.
“Let’s reset the world with new rules, let’s remake it with new knowledge.” They say.
Wordless, I watch the void wrapping, gathering into a sphere, becoming unstable, exploding, making life, creating galaxies. Wordless, I watch the world forming, and I learn and keep learning; it is a new world built by knowledge, different from ancestors, different from my world. I shout aloud: “Why all this happens?”
‘THEM’ hear my thought and whisper. “We are bored Gods and we play with the knowledge we make.”