When the world ended –
mountains split rivers dry moon –
I started breathing.
© Fiza Arshad, 2017 All rights reserved.
I walk the rugged, barren scape of the Kilimanjaro. It hurts to breath. I keep on going. I need to climb to the top. For what? Maybe I am getting delusional, just like Jessie. No, no, there is nothing wrong in hoping to find life. Some semblance of a chance at normality, any clue. Preferably a human I could talk to and form a kinship, to work towards survival, or perhaps a vertebrate. But I have seen nothing so far. Even the plants are withered. The ones that survive are near a source of water. The seawater and lake water is warm everywhere, all year round. It tastes different, more rusty. Maybe from the decayed bodies buried deep underneath. There was no place to bury the mass number of bodies. The graveyards filled up a long time ago. Dumping them in multiple numbers in a single grave had led to ethical and health issues. The local committees and NGOs boycotted the government. That and the accumulating stench forced the government to change tactics. Now that didn’t bode too well, either. The UN had put their foot down to using the developing countries as a graveyard, finally, after a quarter of the population became a vessel for infection. It was too late by then. The cycle had already started and there was no end to it. Entire families, lineages and sects were wiped out. Did that put an end to the war? No. The developed countries, the main power horses, were still at it. All because of gold. Entire nations, mass destruction for more power.
The gold mines in the US were the first to go. A collaboration with Canada led to the wipe-out of the mines in Canada. Gradually, all the mines in most of the countries around the world dried up. The US sent a convoy to search for any remaining mines around the world. Finally after decades, a mine was found in Western Australia. The Australian government hid the whereabouts of the mine and operated in secrecy. After every deal backfired, a war was initiated. From there, it all went downhill.
While the developed countries created a no-go area, and started to dump bodies in abandoned houses, basement and attics, the developing countries didn’t take the further risks of possible worsening of the infected people or the spread of the infection and took to dumping bodies into the sea. And these counties couldn’t afford creating containment areas. There was just enough to feed and care for the people. Soon enough the water circulated and the infection spread to the “safe, contained” countries. People started dying everywhere. It was a chain reaction.
In the past year, I have covered as much as I could of Tanzania and found no one. Not even a soul. I was able to gather supplies: food, clothes, sleeping bags, toothpastes, toothbrushes, shampoos, deodrants, perfumes, and others to tend to my feminine needs. And lots of corpses along the way. I buried the children and babies. I couldn’t bear to see the innocence on their faces. The sweet and bitter acceptance of their fate. Why could I have not been one of them? Was I kept alive to witness people die? No, I promise myself I won’t give up till I know, till I see, life.