Tag Archives: greed

Hunter of El Dorado- Daily Prompt: Ripped from the Headlines!

14 Jan

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.

 

Ooh, fiction fuelled by facts! How could I resist!

I picked mine from BBC’s website. It’s  El Dorado- Truth Behind The Myth,  and it discusses recent archaelogical research that has comfirmed El Dorado, the ‘golden one’, to be not a city but a person – a ruler so rich “he allegedly covered himself in gold from head to toe each morning and washed it off in a sacred lake each evening.”

Originally I clicked on it because I loved the animation film The Road to Eldorado when I was little. But reading about the old customs and rituals of the Muisca people actually got me  thinking about man’s search for riches, our society’s views on money and what we find desirable in life.

“Within Muisca society gold, or the more specifically an alloy of gold, silver and copper called tumbaga, was highly sought after, not for its material value but for its spiritual power, its connection to the deities and its ability to bring balance and harmony within Muisca society. As Muisca descendant Enrique Gonzalez explains, gold does not symbolise prosperity to his people.

“For the Muisca of today, just as for our ancestors, gold is nothing more than an offering… gold does not represent wealth to us.”

–  Extract from the article El Dorado- Truth Behind the Myth

So, are diamonds really girl’s, or man’s, best friend ?

Hunter of El Dorado

He remembered the day he lost his sight clearly.

One morning he simply woke up and found that he had lost his eyes. Instead, he now had diamonds crushing his eye sockets.

As he blinked wildly, he felt them drilling their way deeper, their spiky tips cutting on his retina and optic disc.  He felt an ache trickling down his temple, back of his neck, his spine. It was followed soon after by an insane panic, the fear that his diamond eyes would suddenly shatter and send million knife-sharp spalls into his brain, blood stream and bone marrow, paralyzing him forever.

In his mind, he could already see himself helplessly lying there, like some child’s abandoned ragdoll, just waiting for death. Till one day, his neighbour would be alerted by the smell of his rotting intestines and would finally find him, only to discover it was too late. He would be pickled and stored away in a museum, caged into a glass cabinet for everyone to goggle at like some freakish zoo animal. Here it is, ladies and gentleman and all you snotty kids, a sight so gruesome it might eat your eyes! Are you ready? Witness a man, a monster hardened by money, a hunter of El Dorado, cursed to watch life through diamond lenses! Heeeeere he is!

He could hear the gasps and shrieks of the audience. A middle-aged woman covering her child’s eyes. Don’t look at him Edith, he must have been a bad man.

Was he? A bad man? Just a foul shell of a feeling person?

It shocked him that he had never even considered this before.  Never… that word was like a fat exclamation mark laughing and pointing at him, a proof of his inadequate nature. He had the feeling of entering a room confidently, in a dream, only to find he was stark naked. Heads turned, chatter was sliced into silence. Eyes spread wide in shock-white faces.

No! This was not him!

He was leather briefcases, polished skin like precious china; he was a blank slate to be tinted with the most flattering shades at the start of every press conference, such colours that would complement everyone in the room. He was successful, smart, business. But underneath his Armani suit, he was empty.

But why now? Why today? What was this, distorting his vision?

He tried to strain his eyes immobile and unblinking, squeeze them into clarity, but in vain. His sight was ever more dispersed. All he could focus on was light, random and chaotic lustre racing in front of his eyes. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was some kind of sick joke; his mind repeating again and again the flickering light of his bedside lamp, the last thing he had laid his eyes upon. And whether his vision would be entirely different, happier, had his last sight been lover’s hair falling in loose twirls down their neck. Would he then see only love?

Nauseated by his own thoughts, he finally forced himself to move and fell out of his bed. He crawled on the floor like vermin, trying to find some shelter, a dark hole that would guard him from the firework display dancing on the surface of his irises. Instead, he found a wall to support himself with and he lifted himself up slowly, only to face the full horridness of his condition.

He saw himself staring into the full length mirror next to his wardrobe. His reflection was fragmented to him, but he could still make out one particular detail. His eyes. Terrible.

Indeed, they were perfectly shaped, purest diamonds. For a moment he got lost in them,  admiring their beauty foolishly like a child looking up to his parent and seeing the face of god. But all too soon he was ripped away from his fantasy, to witness their true nature with horror rising in his throat like pulping acid.

For his diamond eyes, like the most precious diamonds, were utterly transparent when inspected from the outside. To him, they were a cage, that frightening glass cabinet he had just conjured up in his mind. But from the mirror stared back at him the image others saw: his eyes like still, shallow water; windows reaching to the very bottom of his soul, exposing all. All his signs of weakness, his dreams, were laying there, drowned into the lake of tears. There they were, pooled into a sad pit of discarded emotions.

Then he saw it, the one dream he had most guarded in his life. It was swimming into the ether, to be lost forever.

As he watched it float by, he felt it stripping him out of his armada of ties, his armory of perfectly fitted suites, his gold watch, dropping all the zeroes on his bank account one by one as it went. It swam up, to the surface of his diamond eyes, where he watched it leaving him, his dream of love. Quickly, too quickly, it became just another light in the distance. And too late did he realize that his rich offerings, his watch and suits and money,  were but clutter. For if he had only touched love, given his dream a fleeting caress as it passed him, that…

That would have been the brightest kind of gold.

The ugly side of charity

13 Oct

When did charity become a selling point?

Buy this and we’ll give two cents out of our million profit to this charity organisation. Buy this product, go ahead, buy yourself some conscience!

I know I have done it, buying a four quid pink pen to support breast cancer charity. Only then to read the small print and figure out that they didn’t even give two percent of that four quid to the promised charity. And the saddest part, I really thought I was helping. Like many others who fall for it.

And the moneymaking machines, the corporations know this. They use it, not to help others, but boost their own profit.

Last month there was a campaign by a big sweets brand here in Finland, Fazer. The idea, the promise, was that when we eat chocolate, African children eat too. Buy this chocolate bar and you’ll help the kids in need. Oh, the charity, the good deed!

So very ironic then, that it is these kids who actually make the chocolate.

None of the products carries a fair trade stamp. The cocobeans are hauled over from Western Africa from plantations that live out of child labour. There is human trafficking too.

So, this is charity. This is what their charity stands for.

Charity has become the equivalent of a face lift for many companies. They photoshop few smiling faces of the poor into their ads, polish their image and then, purring with content, watch the profit flooding in.

It’s so easy. It is a neat little trap for the consumers, bound to attract. Because we want to help. And the best part is, the seller now knows that when we read the ingedients list, we don’t pay attentions for additives. We look at our beloved purchase and see that it’s made of charity. Might not be fat-free but it’s guilt-free!

But what if you didn’t buy that pink pen next time or that chocolate bar, and used the money to buy a sandwich for a homeless guy instead? Or gave him a little bit extra for that Big Issue?

Or what if you put away your wallet all together and gave few kind words to your lonely neighbour? Or carried the shopping of an old woman instead of rushing past her in the shop?

You would see the help. You would see their smile and know they’re smiling for you, to thank you. Not because their profit turnover just tipped over  two million.