Cidade de Deus - by Vaibhav Raghunandan (FS 202)
Mickey sat staring at the burnt parchments he had managed to recover from the ruins of the library at the end of the cosmos. Illegible and scalded, they had been reduced to nothing (a term that shall be of constant recurrence in this era). He brought forward his dustbin and dusted the parchments off his table.
All of a sudden something caught his eye. The first line read Cidade de Deus- ‘the Day of Genesis’. He picked up the parchment
He read on.
1.Cidade de Deus- The Day of ‘Genesis’.
Atlas shrugged. It was a feeling he had been suffering everyday for the past 3 months. But today was not going to be just another day. It was the day the decision would be made. A day to be marked in history forever as the day of Genesis. He had been sitting in the foyer for about an hour now waiting for the others to arrive. 3 minutes to go. Yes, time had been created. A casual remark by Jonathan Livingston Seagull had caused this to happen. It is perhaps at this moment that we should introduce the reader to the cause of ‘Genesis’. Since time has only recently been discovered we can turn the clock back (this fallacy is of course being worked upon by the goddess Maxima).
So we now enter the courtroom of Phaedrus the first (and the last, as you will be informed soon). A god with powers like none other. The power of Unreason. It is to him that we credit the word philosophy (The one and only cause of the Great Argument). Phaedrus had this passion to create, mindless, mind-boggling, conceptual pieces of architecture. Not that he ever built them. There was,, of course, the god of architecture, Gaudy (from whom came the word gaudy) who would do that for him. A master at putting together random thoughts and ideas, he would come up with buildings of absolutely no character. Phaedrus had a plan for this massive building which he was going to call cosmos (initially he thought of un-inverse) and so he sanctioned Gaudy to start work on the project. Gaudy had to make do with the materials in Cidade de Deus, which included basic raw ingredients like scandal, politics, and the threads of tension. Some he used for purely aesthetic reasons (one of Gaudy’s several fascinations) like the tiny twinkling diamonds on the insides of the ceiling (these can be seen at their utmost best when one is in the dark), the small bobbing ball shape rooms and the floating floor. Well, just about sums it up.
Now that the building was done and ready, Phaedrus found his own dear palace way more comfortable than he initially thought. For years then this ‘cosmos’ became what Tea S (one of Phaedrus’ body guards) termed ‘A Wasteland’.
Along came Atlas. Atlas the Great, Atlas the conqueror Atlas who asked questions none had asked before. He asked questions on things that existed, and questions on those that didn’t. He asked Neuton (the god of questioning) questions on the ‘cosmos’. He questioned the waste of government land and people’s taxes on a monument that would never be used and demanded it to be converted into a pub, which incidentally was the last straw.
It ensued in a huge argument between him and Phaedrus, the evidence of which can be found in the layer of broken tiles between Mars and Jupiter. The argument resulted (to the great relief of many) in a trial on the future of the cosmos. The trial lasted exactly 365 days. It was in the first quarter of the 366th day that the decision would be made. This gets us back to the present day.
To cut a long story short, Phaedrus’ power ensured that the decision be made on his terms. The ‘cosmos’ would remain. It would be used as a storage area for the experiments being conducted by the scientists of Cidade de Deus.
The room we will concentrate on is that of Messrs Leonard and Fried (nouns: mad scientists- trying to create lower levels of life). Their experiments were put into this room which they called ‘Fart’ (thanks to Leonard’s unintelligible writing it was later read as Earth!). Fried put their initial experiments with lower lives in the room at a time when Leonard was sketching out his ‘perfect’ prototype called The Vitruviun (later on modified to Man since there was shelf in the room called Vesuvius and too many v’s added to their woes.). Vitruviun was to be the most significant invention in the history of their partnership (before which the most significant was some dinner that Leonard cooked.)
When finally completed and ready to be put into the Fart’s atmosphere Vitruviun was injected with 3 serums to make sure that their level of intelligence never surpassed those of the inhabitants of Cidade de Deus. It would also help Vitruviun in having what Fried termed Dreams (verb: thoughts generated when the mental state of a body is in conundrum and the body is temporarily inactive). The 3 serums were Id, Ego and Super-ego. Ones that left a bitter taste in mankind’s mouth for generations to come.
The story so far. First whiskey was invented, and then Phaedrus in an intoxicated state decided to create the cosmos.
We enter the story at a time when Vitruvian- (the inexplicable laws of language made the spelling of Vitruviun change to Vitruvian)- has just been initiated into the Fart’s atmosphere and is lying outstretched in the circle of innocence.
Leonard was really unhappy. The days of invention had come to a standstill. Ever since they (Leonard and Fried) had put Vitruvian into Fart, the funds had stopped flowing. Their nominations for the Book Her prize for medicine had been revoked and they had instead been nominated for the Pulitz Her prize for literature (which was considered an insult since literature was ‘science for the ignorant’). This state of despondency had led him to consume whiskey in great quantities. The reader would have guessed by now that the vices of ‘mankind’ can in fact be traced back to its creators.
Fried on the other hand was having fun poking holes in Vitruvian’s unconscious. “Get a grip on yourself, Leo, how does the bloody prize matter anyway? Let’s just continue with our experiments. We still have to figure out a way to make these lower levels of life multiply,” Fried screamed out (screaming was the only way to make your self heard in the Fart’s atmosphere since the room had this unique tendency to gather a lot of dust and other polluting gases which made auditory transitions lose their intensity). “It’s not the prize, sweetheart. I have been thinking.” “Ah!” exclaimed Fried “that’s a step towards understanding the significance of the unconscious”. “I have been thinking,” Leonard now spoke in slow measured tones “since multiplication is repeated addition...” he looked up and saw Fried poking away at Vitruvian. Unabashed, he continued “since multiplication is repeated addition, therefore in order to make sure there are more lower levels of life we have to make them add themselves from time to time.” He looked up towards Fried through the haze of irrationality that clouded his senses. “FRIED!” he hollered (holler: to scream louder). Surprised by the sudden change of atmosphere in the room, Fried looked up. “Now that I finally have your undivided attention. How can we make them learn to add on to themselves?” “Educate me, Leo” Fried cried out, adding fuel to Leonard’s already inflated ego. “We have to make them transfer their double prics and helix whatnots from one to the other, in order to add.” Leonard was in full flow now. “Transfer of material can occur when there are present, two things. A purveyor and a consumer. Remember what Canes had said. Some supply and demand stuff. Anyway, I drift away. In science, when we transfer material we use a beaker and a test tube. So there you go. Vitruvian has the beaker; all we need is a counter-part with a test tube.”
“That is impossible” Fried protested. “Vitruvian’s body balances itself on two legs only because of its Painus.1 Removing that would mean it would fall back.” “Easy, My boy. I have the solution. We shall, in the other prototype, balance the weight by providing it with beakers of a different type in the upper half of the body. Don’t worry yourself on the mechanics of Vitruvian. It has all been thought out. All you have to do is make sure that the counterpart will have a couple of different psychological mechanisms.”
Thus came about Vitruvian and Na Li-sa (the name a tribute to the only goddess Leonard ever fell for). Fried gave Na Li-sa stability of mind (unlike Vitruvian), and rational thought. He also provided it with the power to pester (he felt it was necessary, otherwise Vitruvian would be in a state of unconsciousness all day). Leonard provided her with the test tube she would so badly want , the weight balancers (calorie-meet hers) and an ability to shed off all her inhibitions at the slightest provocation.
3. The Theory of Division
“I am tired of this, Vitruvian” Na Li-sa gasped. They had just finished their annual addition routine.
Yes, this is a jump in time. Maxima managed to eliminate the possibility of a jump back, now it is the futuristic jump that she is working on.
A decade has passed since we witnessed the conversation between Leonard and Fried. A decade and weeks since the first addition. They had multiplied to 10 now. All of them the offspring of Vitruvian and Na Li-sa. Naturally then, Na Li-sa was tired.
“I am tired of the monotony of addition. Let's move on.” “Move on! Where to?” Vitruvian smirked. “Let’s explore other mathematical principles. You do know the other principles. Right?” Na Li-sa looked up towards Vitruvian. “You do, right?” (the reader would do well to remember her powers of pestering.).
“Damn right I do. All that multiply, add, divide and subtract they brainwashed us with in the temple of knowledge.” “Ah! Good. Let’s employ the third principle then. Divide.” Na Li-sa persisted. “What do you mean let’s employ the third principle. How do you propose to do that? I know what to do to add and multiply. Division, that is beyond me. How does one divide in an unbiased, even, balanced, romantic world.” Vitruvian was shouting now. “ Shush. Exactly my point. To make Fart more interesting and for the progress of our kind we must do so. Let's send our offspring in pairs to different corners of the room.”
“And what then” Vitruvian screamed again. “ Then we wait and watch.”
“To what purpose, Na Li-sa. What good will come of this?” Vitruvian groaned.
“Good, good, good, that is all that comes out of most things anyway. How about some bad and some grey. Once we divide them we rule. They shall all be below us. Their conflicts shall come to us. Each one of them will have a certain identity, a common feather within themselves. And then shall they evolve. Evolve beyond what I have and you ever will.” Saying thus, Na Li-sa got up, dusted her posterior, and walked away.
It was thus that the world came to be divided into narrow domestic walls. Tireless striving stretched its arms to create those walls and the clear stream of reason was polluted by the incessant flow of heavenly whiskey.
Mickey couldn’t help but laugh. He was amused at the pure carnality of the language of the written story.
Still smirking he picked up his writing initialiser and wondered if he could, just possibly write this all over again.
He wondered if he was writing this right. Not really bothered he continued.
After all, stories about the cosmos would soon be churned out a dime a dozen in every part of the city. Credible though they would sound, they would all be lies.
He put his pen to paper and began animating the third farce (undoubtedly the greatest).
4. The Third Farce
“Two men. The descendants of Satan himself. Told never to retreat, never to surrender. Told that death in the battlefield was the greatest glory one could achieve in his life. Farces, the finest soldiers the world had ever known.
It was all quiet in there. They came from the darkness.”
- A Brief History Of the Mime
Reich Marshall Solidan Burning looked as the cosmos crumble into the fragments it had come out of. And then it was all silent.
A new age had begun. An age of men of freedom. Men born from the pure seeds of the Aryan.
Burning threw away the fragments of the old age, and cast his mind back to where it all began.
The rise of the Third Itch.
Cidade de Deus was plagued by the inefficiency in the anarchy of Phaedrus. The whiskey flowed on the tables of the higher gods, whereas the others craved for bread. The city had turned into a nightmare. Artists, businessmen, and scholars wreaked havoc in every section of the society. Cidade de Deus was falling to ruins. The cosmos, the epitome of Phaedrus’ reign, had turned into the whorehouse for cultural, social and economic changes. Only one man sat and watched. He was the Unfurler. The man who had made Burning what he was today.
Burning wiped the tear that had strolled down his cheek and looked up to see the Unfurler. He raised his arm palm open, inward, as a sign of acknowledgment and elicited the same response from the latter.
He remembered every one of the Unfurler’s discourses. The ones where he talked about the non-duality of existence, the true purpose of being able to reason, and question. Sitting under a tree he talked about the waste of a life following the path of the de-arrangement of the senses. He questioned the very need and importance of the principles that governed the League of 27. Asked why it seemed important to see paintings drawn from different points of view, rather than those that provoked the romantic side of oneself.
Burning cast his mind back to the time when he had woken up one morning to find the Unfurler sitting by the window sill looking at something.
“I threw some bread out yesterday for the masses.” The Unfurler had said. “look what’s happened to them today.”
Burning walked to the window sill and saw bits of green on the fragmented pieces of bread. He gazed at the Unfurler in non-comprehension.
“Evil grows on everything. It is just the way our society is shaping up. The scientist will tell you that the green is the fungus that has grown due to the interaction of the bread with the elements of the atmosphere. Well, here’s what I say. I say that is the evil on the bread. If you try and eat it now you’ll have an upset tummy. If you don’t do anything to it then it’ll multiply and soon the whole thing will be green.”
Seeing the look on Burning’s face the Unfurler had stopped. “You don’t understand what I am driving at do you.”
“Oh! No, Sir I know what you are driving at. All I am afraid of is the speed at which you are doing so. Please slow down or we might just hit a wall” Burning had pleaded.
“Hah! Solidan, that fear stems out of ignorance. You do not know how to drive and hence don’t know when to pull the brakes. Calm down my friend, open your mind and I shall tell you about the Origin of these pieces.”
The Unfurler had then gone on to explain how one might (if one wanted) remove the green from the bread. He explained the two methods of doing so. The first, to wash the bread which would remove the fungus but also render the bread useless and turn it soggy. The other method he said could be done only when the fungus was at a primary stage of its development. All you had to do was spray medicine over it.
“But again Solidan, remember that not all evil is bad. Some are for the good. Consider curd. The bacteria Lacto Bacillus acts on milk to convert it into curd. And remember that curd is even thicker than blood.” The Unfurler had said.
Burning had stared at him with an incredulous look on his face. “Hehe! Yes, I know. You must be thinking I am anything but sane.” The Unfurler quipped. “Remember Solidan, that in wars there are no brotherhoods. All there is is a cause. A reason to fight. Wars have been fought for money, power, fame and land. I guess it makes more sense to fight for time. To shatter and reconstruct time.”
Caught speechless, Burning tried to think of something to say to his superior. Finding nothing, he consoled himself by staring at the cosmos.
Thinking of that now Burning remembered how stupefied he had been as a young god at the enormous structure that he had just destroyed. That was before he had even heard of the Unfurler.
Once when questioned about the cosmos and its fate, the Unfurler had just smiled at Burning. Walking up to the nearest source of light in the room, he proceeded to turn it off. “Can you see anything Solidan.” The Unfurler had asked. “No I cannot, my Lord, there is no light.” “Then think, Solidan, about those who do not need this light, to see. Think about the blind, for who the light has never mattered. And then think of the cosmos. They live under a false light, my dear friend. And they pretend to be able to see through the other side. The inmates have never ventured outside and never will. The objects inside have never seen the light of day. It is time, Solidan, for them to either come through to the other side or perish within.”
Reich Marshall Solidan Burning had armed himself with this knowledge and set about destroying the cosmos. The fungus had to be washed with water. The medicine would not work. The other side beckoned. He had shown them the door, but they refused to open it.
“There was no other pill to take, so I swallowed the one that makes me kill.” Burning muttered to himself as he stubbed his constellation cheeroot out and strode on towards where the Unfurler was standing.
5. The Second Farce
“Way off alone, out by himself, beyond boat and shore,
Marked will the Messiah be,
For all that Icarus was ever known.”
- A Brief History of the Mime
The Unfurler: “Any alliance whose purpose is not the intention to wage war is senseless and useless”.
Standing on top of the Pascal-Ian triangle, The Unfurler, looked down towards the series of the Fibonacci.3 He strained his eyes to see Burning approaching him.
He brushed aside these irregularities in his perfectly symmetrical thought and went back to his equation.
He was recalling the events that had led to now4. He recited aloud a phrase in his native tongue, that of the people of the Num-Aral5.
“If we remove time all we have is now. If we remove space all we have is here. And between here and now, there is a lot to learn.”
The Unfurler looked upon the remnants of the cosmos, the hundreds of corpses around him. He looked at Burning climbing up towards where he was. Stretching out his arms horizontally, he looked up and laughed. He listened to the laughter echoing all around him, and sensed the power, creeping up his body. The strength that he knew none but one possessed, and he had stolen it from him.
The soldier shifted uneasily as Burning approached his battalion. He thought of the others, who had left yesterday, never to return. He remembered his newborn child, yet to be baptized. He wished he had never joined the Farces. Then he remembered the child’s mother. He remembered the night that changed his life forever. He remembered every one of those faces, who had mutilated, disrobed and then dishonored her. He would search for those faces now. He watched the black silhouette getting closer and closer never seeming to change. He lifted his visor, and watched as the man got closer.
Riding down towards the eastern wing of his army, Burning looked around at the eyes trailing him. Astride his mount, he scanned the eyes, searching for the one that expressed fear. The fear, which had reduced the gods to seek help from the Vitruvian. The fear, which he had never felt, but seen a plenty. He searched for the fear today, hoping to extinguish it, before the cinders spread to the next one.
He was shaking now, shivering. He felt the sweat drip down to his lips. No, he told himself, this is no time for fear. Fear is for the weak, the one who shall lie dead at the end of the battle. He feared not the fight; he feared not the booming shots. What he feared, was the reason for his fight. Guilty, the tribunal had proclaimed the three men who had dishonored his wife. They were chastised a hundred times and sent home. But it wasn’t enough for him. His wife had given up her life, drowning herself, in the pools created by her tears. His only child had been taken away from him. This was when he had been approached by three men, who called themselves the farces. Men he had only heard of arrived at his doorstep, offering a hand of friendship. He had taken their friendship, and promised unquestioning loyalty in return. He regretted that promise now. He was not a god of war, he was an architect . One of the several that helped build the massive structure staring at him right now.
Burning looked up at the Unfurler, amazed. He stopped himself mid-step, to catch his breath. Never had he seen a sight such as this. Never had he seen a man transform like this, never had he seen a face mask itself, so suddenly. He wondered what had caused this transformation as he trudged on the mountain.
“Ah! Solidan, finally you come up to meet me.”
“No, my lord, it was just the burning cinders, they refused to turn to ashes.” Burning grimaced as he knelt down on one knee
“Rise, my friend. The days of the itch are over now. The fumes from the smoldering cosmos have left behind no trace. Rise, for now we rejoice.”
“But, my lord! We have suffered heavy losses. Our camps are razed to the ground. The Fibonacci lie in compete disarray. We need to re-group and re-address time.”
Burning held the severed head up, and looked around at all around him. “All you should fear is your own self. Once you conquer fear, the rest is yours.” He bellowed. The forces resounded with their battle cry. “And remember this. All along we are the farces, till the last breath.” The next roar of approval from the army, shook the hearts of all those who heard it inside the cosmos.
Saying thus, he turned around to see the most complex of equations placed in front of him. He had disproved many, shattered several others, and decimated some on his way to reaching the cosmos. He knew that this was his last battle. He prayed that he would survive it.
“Time we shall reconstruct, Solidan. There shall be a moment for that. What perturbs me now, is the disposition of the Fibonacci. They have served their purpose. It is time for them to return to the progressions. What troubles you? Why do you seem so occupied.”
“I have been thinking about our victory. It all seems too sudden. We were at one moment suffering huge losses, seemingly routed, and the next moment. They were gone.”
“Did they never tell you about the paradox of nothing, in the temple of learning. When you divide by zero all havoc breaks loose. Everything loses meaning, and chaos reigns supreme.”
Burning shook loose from his dead steed and drew his sword, waiting for the Vitruvians to pounce on him.
All of a sudden there was a cry, no, a shriek, maybe a screech, and then there was nothing. Nothing but the cosmos remained.
And Burning had his eyes fixed upon it.
“There, there, Solidan, there is a lot for you to learn. You know but very little. Always thinking that my war was for reformation, and restoration. Never did you take the pains to understand it truly. Blindly you followed.”
"Who was I to question, the Saviour? The prophecies have always talked of his coming. Why would he fool me?
“All along I have fooled you, Solidan. All along. I am not your good shepherd. I am not the one you have thought me to be all along. You were no different from the others, who I showed the door. The difference in your case was that I showed you one door, the other had opened for you as soon as you were born.”
Burning looked up amazed.
“Yes, Solidan, you were always the one the prophecy talked about. It was never me. You were supposed to be the Messiah. The Saviour. But you read the prophecy wrong. You could have chosen the second door. It would have left you all alone. You would have had to fight the forces by yourself. Turn from an unknown god to the savior of goodness. I offered you an easier way out. Instant stardom. People would know you- even better, fear you. You would always have an ally.” The Unfurler walked towards Burning, stretching his arm out to meet his shoulder.
“Have you never been curious enough to wonder why you had the wings of Icarus marked upon you? You always thought too much, which is why you are a complete failure. When the prophecy talks about the wings of Icarus it does not talk about a mark on flesh. It talks about the wings of freedom. You have always wanted to be free, yet you chose to be in captivity. When offered freedom you took it with both hands, but went far too high to hold on to your wings. When you fell, it was I who caught you. You were the messiah. But you never thought you were which is where you failed once again.”
Burning turned stunned at the revelation. To think, he had destroyed all those waiting for his arrival.
Stumbling down the mountain, Burning threw his swords away. He stopped, waiting, watching. The Fibonacci coming closer now.
All he heard was a gunshot that shattered the silence which came from behind him. And then he discovered pain. A searing pain that ran through his chest, and traveled across his body. He fell on his knees, clutching at his chest, waiting for help to arrive.
There was going to be none.
Burning looked at the hazy shapes around him, watching him in his last moments. Staring at him, at those black eyes as he was dying. For the first time in his life he met fear. He knew now what it felt like. He beheld his death coming with the mist.
Solidan Burning squinted, his eyes still not accustomed to the dark. He could see what he was searching for, at the end of the curve. The curve meant he would have to travel slowly, and now he slowed down till the wind was a whisper in his face, and all else stood still before him. Knitting his brow in fierce concentration, he held his breath, forcing one… single… more… inch… of… curve… Then his will faltered, he stalled and fell.
“The gates of his heart flung open, and his joy flew far across the land.”
Mickey stopped animating. He shook himself free from his frames and lit his constellation cheroot. He could see this was going to be one wild night.
1 Painus is derived from the collaboration of the English words 'pain' and 'us' translating into the pain it has caused us. Us being the two scientists who went through great trouble to find the right balance in Vitruvian.
2 This walk away action is carried on by Na Li-sa’s kind even today. Na Li-sa did so for effect. Though in recent times it is to make Vitruvian feel like he is in the wrong.
3 The Fibonacci were the greatest numeral army during the ‘cosmic war’. What made them so powerful was their ability to regenerate through addition instead of multiplication. Every numeral in the army was the sum of the two on left hand side. This characteristic separated them from the other numerals which usually added in a geometric or an arithmetic progressive sequence.
4 Today, tomorrow, the hour, a minute, all time has been lost, thanks to a massive collision of ages that occurred during the war.
5 The Num-Aral was a city that eluded historians for centuries. The city was the treasury of Cidade de Deus. Present day mathematicians hold it in great esteem claiming it to be the place of origin of the digit. The validity of this argument can be questioned.