By Wei Choong
“Citizens of the land, free from all forms of discrimination.” As if the constitution ever mattered. The welfare of the minorities amounted to nothing. They were difficult people to caucus with. An insane few even tabled a bill that identified every minority as a second class citizen, a breaking point for moderate senators across the country. Cracks within the ruling coalition presented an opportunity. Enough with enriching the elite, a revolution was due.
Even if it meant losing a loved one.
“Dad, are you done? Can we go home yet?”
It was 5 in the morning. Jared was struggling to keep his eyes wide open in fear of receiving a long lecture from his father.
“Uncle? Uncle Fod?”
A familiar voice. It was Yuliana, the temple volunteer; Jared’s best friend, or at least that was the title he referred to her since the age of 6. Yuliana wasn’t too well off either. Her parents were also frequent visitors to the Cirulus. She despised being born ethnically Cirqe, just like Jared. They would bond during after-school athletic training sessions, where they complained about the religious fanaticism their parents were deeply invested into.
“The carvings are almost complete, Liana,” responded Jared’s father.
Yuliana shrugged, looking away.
“I know you’re worried about Jared not getting sufficient sleep, but he needs to learn to have a purpose in life. I’d be happy if he considers adopting one good trait from you.”
Those were happier days.
Life was never the same after Jared made it to university. Not when his father crippled the nation, merely for what he saw fit for its citizens.
“Order! Order in the Senate! First Senator Fod Wesmond has called for a motion of no-confidence against the prime minister,” the speaker of the house announced.
An attempt was made to bring down the government; never seen in 167 years of independence. This plunged the administration into a state of shock and disarray. It threw Jared’s life off-track, shining an unnecessary limelight on him. Father said it took loyalty and chivalry for a person to truly become a man. What he initiated did not reflect his teachings.
Was that why mother never came back?
Jared got teased in university. A place for grown-ups, yet Jared found himself pursuing his dreams with a troop of immature monkeys. Bearing the title of ‘son to a traitorous senator’. He even had to endure lecturers who would occasionally poke fun at his lineage. All he wanted in those moments was to dissociate with his father. He even considered confronting his father about moving out at one point in his life.
“Why am I born Cirqe, it’d be great if I was born a carrot and…”
“And you wouldn’t be here then,” Yuliana cut him off. She was exhausted and Jared’s babbling made it worse. It was time for something else. She reached for a bracelet in her pocket and clipped it onto his wrist. Jared didn’t react to it, and instead took interest in the sunlight that reflected off the giant scoreboard.
“It’s from the temple,” she smirked.
“So does it grant superpowers or something?” Jared returned.
“Grants you super speed you whiny rabbit!”
Yuliana leaped from her crouching position and sprinted off. Jared shook his head before going after her. They resumed running laps around the tracks, just like the days of high school. It gave him a temporary return to normalcy, a state of mind where politics didn’t intertwine with his life.
It would be best if Jared’s father had party briefings or senate negotiations with his goons that lasted the whole evening. He very much preferred an evening of solitary. All by himself. Mostly because he wanted to revise. Like the good son he needed to be. Or perhaps to make sense of what his father did. The Prime Minister’s closest confidant turned enemy reduced the administration into dust overnight. Utterly disgraceful. As portrayed by mainstream media.
Questions without answers. Fantastic. Jared was unable to clear his doubts about his father. Fod Wesmond wasn’t at fault. He was just trying to be a good leader, a good role model, a good…
He was unsure. Uncertainties in life didn’t affect him before this because father always gave assurance.
Not a single explanation. Not since the betrayal. Fod Wesmond tried to find time to accompany his son during these dark times, but the labyrinth of politics he created required his full attention to manoeuvre through. A better country for Jared to live in, at the expense of their relationship, which was deemed a small price to pay. His absence trapped Jared into an abyss. An abyss that feeds on overthinking.
Enough was enough. Jared had to blow off some steam or else he might just snap.
He has to end this … suffering. Jared gave the doorknob an inaudible turn. Father is well asleep.
Probably drained from trying to fix a self-imposed disaster. The coast was clear. He grabbed an accessory off the table and headed off.
2:42 a.m. He’d lost count of the sleepless nights. Jared wasn’t physically tired, rather mentally worn. Such a beautiful night. Morning? He stood atop the Cirte, a tower-like structure and dangled his legs over the edge dangerously.
“Your bracelet led me here!”
“So you’re telling me, you sneaking out of home in your pyjamas and acting irrationally was all my fault?” she retorted.
“Obviously! I mean, I did get some good rest up here.”
The sky was still dark. Jared was in an awkward position. The best sleep he’d had since the incident though. Yuliana sat next to him, in her hand a cylinder-shaped carving. The project that father completed a few weeks back. Pointless. Yuliana drew out her phone from the back pocket.
All of a sudden, the room was filled with light rays. Jared gazed in awe.
The trapdoor below them creaked open. Great timing. A man in white ceremonial uniform with a gold lace and numerous honorary awards that he no longer deserved at this point of time. He even brought his suitcase. Favourite suitcase. An important occasion ahead, perhaps.
Yuliana hurried off to manage temple matters. It was about time for a father-son conversation.
“Listen to me just this once, please. The storm ends today. A new government. Our future has never been better. I’m telling you, Jared. It’s a new age.”
A forceful government change that the people never asked for. Jared did not see his father as a hero, rather a tyrant. An enemy of the state. He wanted a normal life. All the explanations about oppression were nothing more but excuses for father’s power-grabbing actions.
“Excuse me, father. I believe you should be on your way to the Senate. If there’s nothing else, I’d like to return Liana’s phone.” Jared rebuked.
“I know how you feel. Lost. I did too when your mother left.”
Father finally opened up to the truth. In the aftermath of divorce, his belief in Cirqe teachings intensified. It gave him purpose. “Seek where it glowed many, for there are multiple exits to darkness.” A core principle of Cirqe ancestry. You may be trapped in a place shrouded in darkness, but there will always be a solution. Multiple solutions. The carved cylinder was a symbol of hope. A stone with unique properties. Upon contact with light, it reflects in multiple directions, brightening up the surroundings.
“What I did was a culmination of years of hard work. We’ve been sidelined all these years but by having an aim in life nothing can deter us from succeeding. Not even loved ones who disagree.”
Opened to a world of new possibilities, Jared needed some time to digest all the new information. For all he knew, it was the dawn of a new era.
“Oh and, don’t forget to change out of your pyjamas. The suitcase contains formal wear. Feel free to drop by today for a little show!”