Saturday, June 15, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Our finite world

There was a time when you could live without having to have a chip inside you, a time you could eat everything without dying, a time you could touch everything, smell everything without throwing up, a time when you were free. Oh, how she wished those days were more than legends

Update : 13 Sep 2018, 05:57 PM

“Don’t you dare.” the girl named Sandra yelled, “Don’t you dare, do you hear me?”

“We hear you fine,” the police dragged her by her shoulder, “We don’t want any complications, if you would only follow us...”

“No, no, nooo. Let go of me.” She twisted hard in the man’s grip. He gripped onto her nest-like mess of a hair, and yanked. She didn’t make a single sound.  A female police came and grabbed Sandra’s other arm, digging her sharp, claw-like nails into her arm. Sandra kicked the woman’s shins and as she let go of Sandra’s ghostly pale arms, the policewoman muttered some insult under her breath but Sandra couldn’t make out the words. She could hear nothing but her heart slamming against her chest. Her hands formed fists and she swung at the policeman. He caught her fist in his abnormally large hand and twisted it behind her. Pain, pain was all she could feel, her eyes stung and blurred her vision. No. No, she would not cry. She blinked fast and let two tear drops splash to the pewter gray pavement outside the hospital.

As soon as she had said she would not let them insert a chip inside her, the doctors had immediately called the police. They had told her, if this world were to sustain what remained, they had to work together and stop consuming the things they chose not to. The police said the chip wouldn’t hurt. It would only ensure she wouldn’t be able to consume that one thing 

Sandra was too young to be stuck in those metal cells, so the police had transferred her to a juvenile correction centre. She didn’t mind, as long as she wouldn’t have to have a chip inserted in her, making sure her consumption was limited. This was useless, terribly useless. They wanted her to give up something, say she would never consume it again. She had seen what had happened to her brother, she had seen her brother fall into the magnolia bush in the park. He had avoided that specific flower because of the chip. She had seen his skin burn and sizzle. She had pulled her brother out as he screamed and cried, screamed for his leg that had burned away and turned into ash, cried because he couldn’t stop the pain. She had fallen on her knees next to him. She was 12 then and he was 14, she remembered as the ambulance came, how she just sat paralyzed and wouldn’t budge. They had carried her to the hospital as well. The only thing the doctors ha said was that he should have known not to go near it. They said he was 14 and that he was big enough. She would never let that happen to her, never.

Sandra had seen her parents come to the school and seen them ask to see her. She remembered this morning, which seemed years ago now. She had told her parents she would tell the doctors that she would choose to never consume cucumbers again. She was allergic to them already, so it didn’t matter. She thought of what happened to her brother. That’s when she changed her mind.


It was their daily, ‘get fresh air time’. Sandra went to the spot of the field she had been going to for weeks, near the fence, which seemed to contain her from this other world. She stared past the fence at the wall separating their ordered life from the ‘free-willers’ who lived on the other side of the nearby border. She had learned in school how the underprivileged, who couldn’t pay for the chip treatment were left on the other side of the wall. They could touch, taste, smell and look at whatever they wanted with no limit. Sandra had been taught to be thankful that they had enough money to be on this side of the wall. They were taught that the people on the other side had terrible supply and their living was anything but sustainable. However, the people on the other side were free, and right now free is all she cared about.

She couldn’t seem to sleep very well. “Free,” she rolled the word in her tongue, it felt comforting. The only goal she seemed to want to achieve. She knew, she had heard that day, that her mom and dad would come and take her to the doctor, she knew that this time a police would be telling the doctor to insert the chip in her whether she wanted to or not. She knew that was not a life she wanted to live.

Her mom finally came to collect her. She looked at her mother but said nothing. Her mother hadn’t changed, but she seemed pale and she had dark circles under her eyes. Sandra assumed getting another appointment for her had not been easy - the hospital probably didn’t want any negative attention. Her mom pulled her into a tight hug. That’s when she started to cry, as she hadn’t cried for her mother, father or brother during her whole stay at the centre. She had never cried for home. She never compared the rough beds and itchy blanket to the soft ones she had at home. Never compared all the different types of foods she had at home to the center's soup and sandwich at every meal. She never complained once but now all that had happened seemed to pour out of her. She cried and held her mother even tighter.

The policeman followed closely behind Sandra. He was nice enough to give her space. They had to go through security, which went as smoothly as it always did, which meant there were many unnecessary complications. They finally arrived at the waiting room where Sandra sat and counted the seconds until her freedom would be cut from her. People normally got their chip the moment they hit 13 years of age but she would be getting hers six weeks late. She couldn’t stand waiting anymore so she went to the washroom, slamming the door.

The police officer, James, had arrived from London with his family only two weeks ago. He was hoping to get the higher position he was promised but apparently he was late. Thus, he stood in front of the washroom, wasting his time, surveying this girl who thought she was too good for the government’s law. She didn’t understand that without the sustainable sacrifices, the world would descend into chaos. He had been outside the wall when he was younger, he saw the way people starved every day, how he would have to steal, how everything was limited. She didn’t understand her luck. He, at the age of 20, had finally entered past the wall. Now he stood waiting for the girl to get out of the washroom. A few minutes later, the nurse approached. “Sir, if you would call Sandra Jones, it is her turn.” she walked away.

“Um…” he cleared his throat, “Sandra, you better hurry. The doctor is waiting.” he waited for an answer, then knocked, “um, Sandra.” he waited, “Sandra.” he called her a dozen more times then, he started banging really hard till his hands turned red.. The door blasted open.

 “Jeez, don’t have to break down the door.” James was relieved. He had thought she had escaped through the bathroom window like in the movies. He followed her into the doctor’s office.

When she was finally called in, she tried to stay still. “So,” the doctor started, “We’ve got the papers signed, and I have been told you have chosen to not consume cucumbers.” she nodded. “Okay, so I’ll have to numb your shoulders than cut your skin and gently place the chip. Then we can stitch you back up. That shouldn’t be too hard.” He was trying to be nice but failing miserably. There was nothing nice about getting cut open and having a machine that can kill you swim in your blood. The doctor injected her and with a knife sliced her shoulder an inch open. She felt something cold enter through her skin.

She came home after a few weeks, and didn’t feel any better. Her brother was sitting in the wheelchair, watching TV. He looked at her and gave her a sad smile. She smiled back. Whether she liked this law or not, she would have to accept it. There was a chip already swimming inside her. She went to her room and stared out the window, she tried to remember the last time she had seen the blue of the sky, which always made her terribly happy. Now, she could only see gray and purple clouds hiding any trace of the blue. She stared out at the wall. How she wished to climb over it. How she wished to be free. How she longed to see the stories her grandparents would tell her, of a time when the ocean was blue and seagulls soared high above the waters, when palm trees dotted the butterscotch colored sand. They’d told her how when it rained you could go out and dance in it instead of having to hide because of too much acid. There was a time when you could live without having to have a chip inside you, a time you could eat everything without dying, a time you could touch everything, smell everything without throwing up, a time when you were free. Oh, how she wished those days were more than legends.

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