She wanted to know why he destroyed their land,
The village’s only well,
Then the animals.
She wanted to know why he denied the villagers
A decent school,
And put up walls —
After taking down all their bridges.
She wanted to stare him deep in the eyes
And ask him why he had let so many villagers die.
So she stood at the gates of his golden palace
With her fingers curled into its iron bars,
And waited for him to come out.
And after hours turned into days,
And days turned into weeks,
She finally saw his crippled body being
Guided into a long black vehicle.
“WHY?” she shouted at him from a distance.
“WHY did you do all this?”
The white-haired man rolled down his window and
In a distasteful voice, replied back to her:
“You pitiful fool,
Do you think the world cared about me all these years?
I used to push a cart and sharpen knives,
And some days I would be forced to sleep hungry.
So as the years turned, and I became bitter and starved in more ways than one,
I decided to cut down trees,
And with the wood I built homes.
And after I sold those homes,
I bought land,
And then I built more homes and put them on the land.
Then I created a village and people came to live in it,
So I taxed everyone because the land was mine.
And because everyone lived under my security and authority,
Everyone had to pay for protection.
And with those taxes, I bought up all the surrounding land for cheap,
Because as my wealth grew, so did my power.
Then I sold everything and anything I could to the highest bidders.
And in the final days of my existence,
How dare you ask me: Why?
Do you not see the white hairs on my head
And the wrinkles on my neck?
Do you really think I care what happens to the world
After I die?”
“But those trees you cut weren’t yours!
And the rivers and streams you sold weren’t yours!
What made you think you could steal and sell what belongs to all the children of the earth?”
The old man snorted then replied:
“Nobody said anything, so I kept taking.
And the more I took and nobody said anything,
The larger things I’d take!
How silly of you to come crying
Only after everything is gone?
I couldn’t allow your people to be intelligent, united and strong,
For they would have thrown me into the well had they discovered I was
The big bad wolf!
So I had to keep them ignorant, divided and filled with fear —
Of everything beyond the village walls.”
“But do you not fear God?” the young woman cried out.
The white-haired man now answered flatly:
“God should fear me.
I’ve robbed and raped his people and lands,
And his followers are weak.”
And with that, he motioned for his driver to pull away.
The woman ran after the car and tried to scream,
But as soon as she opened her mouth,
Her voice turned into a howling wind.
It wailed, thrashed and moaned over the abandoned village,
Then disappeared into the hollow forest.
Author: Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun
Image: trekearth.com Abandoned village Nevsehir, Anatolia