By Julia Sam
Autumn 2050, the 14th Dalai Lama was finally returning back to his home country. He had lived all these years to see his country free again and now at 115 years old, he had come back. The frail old man could be seen on TV everywhere, as people all around the world witnessed this historical moment. Tibet was now a free country and this was a day to be remembered for many years to come.
Ada was feeling cautiously optimistic. He was an observer but he grew up listening to horror stories and knew what the old regime was capable of, the benevolent image they tried to push, despite the world knowing about the often-inhuman things that they did in the shadows. His grandmother had always said that the only reason they grew so much, so quickly was because they forgot about human rights and focused on getting what they wanted, feeding their greed – and that, one day would be their downfall. He was scared that the shadow of that regime was still lurking behind the new shiny coat that was painted after The Incident of July 2037. Despite his worries, Ada felt hope budding in his chest and his eyes getting warm, he tried his best to keep both of them down as he watched the event unfold on TV, with the rest of the people in the co-working space.
Hope was a dangerous thing to show for someone who wanted change. The only thing that allowed his great-grandparents to survive was to feign ignorance and submit to the authorities that held their lives by the end of a rifle. They lived to see Ada born in a country that was freer than their own and left the world at peace knowing that the lessons they had taught their kids would reach the new born baby one day.
All they wanted was peace and a roof over their heads and their children dying of old age. They tried to fight against a regime that they did not trust or believe in. They could have never imagined the kind of price they had to pay, they thought the country was opening up, they thought that they could have ideas and better their lives and talk to a government that was willing to listen to them and do the job, that was to represent the people. They were wrong and they fled to a country that seemed to be the opposite of where they came from.
Ada’s right lip corner rose slightly – if only they knew that the corruption of power existed everywhere. It didn’t matter if it was dressed in red, in blue or the famous tri-colours. Money spoke to everyone and everyone knows the green.
It didn’t matter if you protested or if you got yourself into the race and tried to fix things. There’s no end to things like this, in the movies – we don’t cut to a happily ever after and the concept of it just does not exist. Policies and ideas change all the time. If the guy that told us that “yes, we can” was succeeded by an orange peel with hair, could we ever change anything? Those were Ada’s thoughts before he joined the protests two years ago.
He still remembers the growing growl of the protesters as they got closer and closer to his old office. He knew what they were doing was a waste of time but something called him out. He had hoped it was curiosity and that it was by chance that he got to the door and invited them to hide from the riot police. Looking back now, deep down, he knew the real reason why he headed downstairs to the protest – he intended to join them.
He was angry and he wanted to be heard. He was angry for his great-grandparents, his grandparents, his parents and for himself. He was angry at the horrors they’ve only briefly described to him as a child but he now knew how to fill in the gaps. History books had more than he ever wanted to know. He was angry that he got to know what it was like to not be afraid of famine, to not have had a home and to have lost the people you love before they were gone, because life had been so unstable for them. He was angry at the trauma that was passed on from one generation to the next, the trauma that stopped him from doing anything stupid when he was young – when he was at school, the trauma that none of the kids around him had growing up. He knew it was selfish of him to think that way, but he couldn’t help but think of all the memories, laughter and mistakes he could have made, if only his family members were not broken.
Ada had decided that as long as he lived in a country where he was free to protest, he would protest for everyone else that couldn’t go out and face the police, for whatever reason. The Adas who were too scared to get involved, the Adas who were too scared of hurting their parents, the Adas who lived in a world where their basic freedom was not guaranteed, the Adas who were being persecuted and enslaved against their will at that very moment and most importantly, the new Adas who do not deserve to live in a world such as this one.
Claire, his co-worker, woke him up from his trance and told him it was time to start the meeting. They had to plan the next protest and contact politicians who could take their ideas and turn them into policies, there was a lot of work to be done and there wasn’t a second to spare. Claire reminded everyone that they had to strike while the iron was still hot and that if they couldn’t meet the time, people’s attention would be shifted somewhere else, something they simply couldn’t afford.
As another member of the organization went through the agenda of the meeting, Ada looked at the message he had just received. He smiled slightly, reminded of the future they were fighting for. He had let out a sigh, determined more than ever to change the world so it would be ready for the little pea sized embryo that was growing inside his lover.