Magic Kingdom

Maskwaith Ahsan
Art & Literature, Story
Magic Kingdom

Someone who had to struggle to make ends meet ten years ago drives a fashionable four wheeler today. Someone who had no shelter then, owns a farm house now. Someone who was a free-loader then, is able to throw a five-star party today. And someone who had to take loans from friends without the promise of return has today taken millions in loan from banks without the necessity to give it back. Social media today is full of such success stories backed by colorful photographs.

A magician-cum-historian can, thus, this easily turn into a bank-owner.

He had a comfortable life even during the independence war as his family was loyal to the colonial king. Once the war was over, he came out loudly and started writing the history of the victorious, dividing the nation into two; pro-liberation war and anti-liberation war. He himself was inactive during the war but his magic theory offered him the authority to distribute certificates of pro-liberation identity. He became a celebrated judge of patriotism and loyalty to the native king.

One magical morning, the historian’s bank reserves “evaporated”. The king became upset and refused to talk to the historian for such dishonesty. He started scrambling for another theory to rise back in royal graces.

There are many court magicians in service; some can control population by organized road-accidents, some can control crime by crossfire, some can show development with mouth-watering statistics, some can create the fear of God using ultra-religion, and some can help the king’s power using ultra-nationalism. And then there are plenty of other media and social media magicians who can produce effusions of oil for the King and confusions of reality for the subjects.

The king firmly believes that he created history by turning the kingdom into a beggar-free one. Whenever there’s noise from subjects protesting against discrimination and misrule, his advisers magically come up with opinion polls that show him to be more popular than God.

Every subject critical of the king is picked up by the king’s men. Every rebel disappears and their families pray they are in jail and not killed by the elite force. With the entire kingdom turned into a big jail, happiness is limited to just survival.

The magician of fear suddenly feels that coinages like “enemy of the kingdom” or “pro-liberation war” are no longer enough to keep the ruling rod hot. He employs a fear-producing cyber brigade which talks against enlightenment, for to them culture only means old fashioned stage shows. At best the brigade can talk about some books based on back flaps, boast of some art film without having understood it and so on. The inner meaning of art and culture, a desire for freedom, goes missing.

The magician of fear approaches the magician of history to come up with a new theory to divide and rule, one that the fear-brigade can play over the minds of subjects. The magician of crossfire ridicules this effort saying that only arms can produce optimum fear; just ensure that the courts remain embarrassed and silent.

The magician of history gets his chance; he looks at the map of the Magic Kingdom and its neighboring empires, and asks his wife: if I propagate that non-believers of the king are agents of the enemy kingdom, how does that sound!

His wife answers: how do you expect the subjects to fear the past rather than native kings whose men grab land, extort the helpless and take a huge toll on human life?

Disappointed, he calls up the magician of hatred who tells him that this doesn’t sell anymore but with a new brand of spectacles, the wearer will see development and nationalism everywhere, the protesting crowd will appear as enemy of the kingdom and virtual illusion will take over reality.

The history magician says: Eureka, we need illusion to rule. He orders these magic specs through which the empire will look like heaven and anyone criticizing the king will appear wearing flags of the enemy kingdom. These specs are distributed amongst the fear-producing cyber brigade.

Since there is no magician of common sense, all the others keep on enjoying the illusions. When they wear magic specs everything looks heavenly even though the number of enemies appears higher than expected and doesn’t match the magical popularity poll results. But the opinion of subjects doesn’t matter, so the king’s men remain happy.

The magician of crossfire further requests for contact lenses instead of spectacles so that his men don’t have to ever see the harsh reality. The history magician receives the highest royal award for creating such an illusion of utmost happiness.

The king receives letters from fellow rulers of ‘friendly’ and ‘enemy’ kingdoms, appreciating his success in achieving sustainable illusion of development and happiness. They look forward to importing such magical contact lenses.

Maskwaith Ahsan. Maskwaith Ahsan is an international journalist, educator and the author of over 14 books. His columns appear in several Bengali newspapers, magazines and websites across the globe. He also hosts his web TV show E-SouthAsia. With socio-political satire...

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