Startled by the noise of a glass shattering in the sitting room, the elderly man in the house put on his torch. He was in bed with his grandson, and the day had dawned. His fear heightened the more when a fragment of the glass hit the wall. He knew someone had just kicked the glass, but he could not ascertain the individual.
Positioning Erick’s head on the pillow, he stepped down from the bed and switched off his torch. He said a brief prayer, and took quiet and careful paces toward the sitting room.
There he saw his son drowning himself in a bottle of alcohol.
“Eddy, you are awake?”
“Yes. Good morning.”
“I heard the noise of a glass shattering.”
Eddy pointed to the edge of the table and responded, “It slipped from that end.”
The father must have reasoned about why his son was breakfasting on alcohol, and why he was careless with handling the glass. He sat on a sofa in the sitting room to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the son. In time, Erick entered the sitting room and sat beside his grandfather.
“Eddy,” the father called, “I know if humans were created to be satiable by instinct, life would become more of a chore, not what we love doing. If you hate your environment or career, you would never quit because that would be an intrinsic part of you. And if you like a food, you would never forbid its aroma even when your health is at stake.”
“Papa, you are now speaking my mind,” Eddy interrupted his father. “It’s never an intrinsic part of us to accept the status quo. That’s why I said we need to take action when the society is problematic.”
“Let me land, please.”
“Would you take action against your life because you don’t like it? Your lifestyle can make all the difference. You only need to adapt your life to suit the system.”
“Many have had the right motives like you. Some things are just beyond your power; you only need to adapt.”
“What if I can aspire for the power?”
“You don’t understand what power entails, son. Everybody wants power, even without knowing the cost. Many know the detail, but being pragmatic becomes unattainable.”
“Papa, I know that’s how you will view me. A child always remains a child in his parents’ sight anyway. But I have the knowledge of what I want.”
The father giggled. “Only if you have realised knowledge is a trap! You have read about the Civil War, but let me rekindle it in your memory.”
As the father began the narration, the film transitioned to a scene where protesters appeared in gloom. Their representative was expressing their plight to the journalists. “For years,” he said, “our elders have been ignorant of the truth that our resources are being carted away in exchange for a penny. … Henceforth, we say no to exploitation of our land, our resources and our people. Our lands are degraded!”
The following day, the protest brought the head of state before the masses of the state, but he could only be seen on the monochrome television. “The government will liaise with the traditional leaders in Rio,” he said. “Until then, the workers in the sites should proceed with their activities.”
His conclusion evoked an uprising. A great pandemonium struck in the state. Youths marched out with weapons of all sorts. Security officers were disarmed by the youths. Rio connived with neighbouring states and banned workers in their research sites. All the workers fled for their lives. Within twenty-four hours, a new leader had emerged among the people.
“I declare a state of emergency to curtail the illegal activities in Rio,” the head of state echoed.
Peace suddenly became a daydream. Vulnerable crowd comprising women and kids were running helter skelter. The military mounted roadblocks. Men of Rio and neighbouring states were advancing to launch a counter attack with the military. The civil war that would later claim the lives of millions had started.
Back to Eddy and his father, the father asked: “Do you know what caused the war?”
“It’s more of sedition.”
“Knowledge came before sedition. For years, the elders were not aware of the value of their resources. And they had experienced peace throughout the years of ignorance. When knowledge came, it became the primary agent of destruction rather than becoming power. I have told you I’m not in support of your aspiration.”
“We can’t progress if we are all afraid of dying.”
“But, the truth you don’t know is only the vulnerable die. You are contesting with those who are richer and more influential than you. I wonder you don’t know money itself is power.”
“It’s not bad to die for a just course.”
“God forbid. I will never witness that. … I have warned you enough, but you have remained adamant. Just be mindful of what you say in the presence of this kid.”
Eddy giggled. “Papa, join me and let’s change the world.”
Holding Erick, the father stood angrily. “You plan to change the world? Be careful the world doesn’t change you.”
In the afternoon, the grandfather went outing with Erick. They sat a few distance away from the soldier monument in the town. They were snacking as he was educating the boy. He said, “That statue is used to commemorate those who died in the Civil War I mentioned.”
“What happened after the war?” Erick asked.
“There was calmness. But people became more rebellious and hate each other.”