On The Lonely Planet
It was a cold night on planet Honjowe. Clashes between the Simuys and the Footless, who were assisted by the Mhors, were on rise. Hir was troubled.
The Mhors were allies to the Footless and walked naked-footed in defiance of the traditionally inclined Simuys, who believed that feet, since they carried the burden of the entire body must be given paramount care and respect and should therefore be covered and decorated with comfortable fur and precious gems at all times. Mhors labelled the beliefs of Simuys as antiquated and insinuated that the latter’s convictions were exclusionary and insulting to the gifted people of the Footless Order. The Simuys, on the other hand, saw footlessness as voluntary and condemned it as an insult to their faith. Not all in the Footless Order appreciated the Mhors or saw them as one of their own, and there were often instances of the appropriation of the Footless identity by the Mhors, not to mention the blame-game over victimhood that tensed the atmosphere throughout but since only a united front of the Mhors and the Footless could equal the strength of the more numerous Simuys, they had no choice but to join forces.
The Simuys often trapped the Footless in gem palaces and subjected them to elaborate crutches widely hated among the former. The Footless were found converting and inducting the Simuys into their Order through the use of brute force. The Mhors took pride in moderation and would go for symbolic gestures like stripping the jewels off a Simuy, or stealing their furry base to register dissent. The communities became more important than individuals in inter-group romantic and fraternal relations.
The tensions had simmered over centuries and Hir sensed that the tipping point was not very far. Hir contemplated leaving the planet before the eruption but the storyteller in hir could never allow such an affront to chronicling. So hir waited, and to lighten the burden of wait hir sat on the broad-leafed lava lotus amongst the orange waves and soothing fumes, meditating. Hir’s trouble was rather unique. As a creature that was voluntarily footless, though Hir did not reflect that aspect of hir existence very often, but heavily dressed as hir glided through Honjowe (giving a Simuy tint to hir bearing); Hir was simultaneously an offending insider to both groups. The beautiful colours at the helm of hir robe and the resplendence of hir attire did not gel with hir footlessness on a polarized planet. Which group would attack hir first and how?
As the lava grew thicker towards the end of the day, two elderly maidens approached hir. Hir instinctively feared for safety, but in a flash second the realization struck. These were the highest counsel for the two fighting groups. The Footless spoke first.
“This generation doesn’t recognize you, but we know you by your reputation and we seek your help.”
“I’m an outsider. How can I possibly help?” Hir exclaimed.
“We have an idea.”
The Simuy elder whispered something into hir ear and the plan whirred into motion.
As the time passed and the lava thinned, Hir prepared hirself for the action. For the first time in hir life, Hir sat naked in a plaza with minimalistic crutches tied to hir waist. Soon enough, a crowd had surrounded hir as expected. Obscenities were being whispered, softly at first, but as the people forested the pitch got higher and surer.
“Bare crutches? They symbolise legs and such an insult to faith would not be tolerated on this planet!”
“Everybody knows crutches are an anathema to the Footless. How dare this foreigner showcase such impunity in a plaza?”
“I say we bury this fool in jewels so everybody knows the consequences of messing with Simuys!”
“Or we could just drown the puny bastard.”
“We must strip the offender of the crutches and shove them inside that idiotic brain that started this show in the first place.”
The crowd had divided itself into two groups. Soon when it seemed the verbal threats were on the verge of materializing, the elderly maidens emerged.
“The Simuys want Hir dead. Would the Footless help them?” screamed the Footless maiden at the crowd.
“How can our interests ever match if they are the enemy?” cried the footed elderly Simuy.
“We could ask hir which group hir belongs to” shouted a voice.
“I don’t associate myself with bloodhounds” Hir calmly replied.
There was a sudden clamour; someone threw stones; a pole was directed in hir’s direction; there was a loud blast; Hir pressed the button on hir left hand. Only the calming voices of the elderly maidens were able to prevent the stampede that would have ensued.
As they settled, they saw ashes where Hir had stood.
“Good Mountains, we have killed hir!”
“We killed an affluent advanced foreigner for speaking the truth!”
Suddenly the whole crowd was in a state of mute panic, irrespective of group identity.
“Are we bloodhounds then?” the soft but clear voice of the elderly Simuy pierced the silence.
“Hir is alive, but hir might as well have died. Is it so difficult to not kill, to hold difficult and different views in peace?”
The crowd slowly retreated. Something in Honjowe had changed.
Hir materialised on a busy Colombian street.
“I won’t call it a Mexican stand-off per se”, a teenager was blabbering, “but dude that shot was brutal!”