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Nonno Panda and …
a Goblin an Elf and a Fairy
One day I got lost in the dark wood, unable to find the right way… around the zoo.
One day, wandering along life’s path, I got lost in a dark jungle and, unable to find the right way, I bumped into two strange creatures… an Elf and a Goblin. When they saw me, big panda that I am, they ran back into their holes.
Being a peaceful and endangered species, I did not think I could frighten a soul in nature’s kingdom. But obviously I was wrong. After a while, they very timidly tried to approach each other, while maintaining eye contact. They spoke, but the sounds of their own voices scared them and they rushed back into their holes.
What strange creatures, I thought. But, just as I had aroused their curiosity, they had aroused mine, so I decided to stay and see what other peculiarities they might show me.
Soon the Elf emerged, poking just his head out and then so did the Goblin. I sat still, not making a sound. They both looked at me, puzzled. But, no questions had been asked and so, seeing that I posed them no threat, they got used to my being there. Meanwhile, they started to make friends at a distance – still from the safety of their holes, though.
“Oh! It’s you. You scared me,” the Goblin said. “I thought you were a Human.”
“You scared me too,” replied the Elf. “I thought you were one, too”
“My father sent me” said the Goblin, “to see what the hell these Human scoundrels were getting up to. We haven’t heard them for such a long time and my father suspects they’re up to no good.”
“I think you’re going to be disappointed,” replied the Elf.
“Why?” asked the Goblin.
“They’re all dead,” said the Elf smiling, as if already knowing the answer to the riddle.
“What?!!?” cried the Goblin, hardly containing his shock.
My shock, too!
“All dead,” continued the Elf, stretching a little.
“How?” said the Goblin frowning. “Hang on, you’re having me on, aren’t you?”
“All I know is that the Human race is extinct,” the Elf said with an even bigger smile on his face.
I gulped but let them carry on.
“Holy Nature! That’s breaking news!” said the Goblin.
“Ha, Ha,” the Elf burst out laughing. “You fool! Do you think we need to have “the news”, now the Humans are all dead?”
The Goblin looked down and said softly, “Yes, you’re right, but if there’s no news, how will we know what’s happening in the world?”
“What are you talking about?” asked the Elf.
“Well, to know if the Sun’s risen or set. If it’s going to be cold or going to be hot. If it’s rained somewhere, or even snowed. If the wind’s still blowing. How will we know all that?” asked the Goblin.
The Elf tried to comfort him.
“I believe that Fortune will withdraw into the wings. She’ll just see how things are, without poking her nose in. There won’t be any more kingdoms and empires that blow up and burst like soap bubbles. Nobody will fight wars because there’ll be nothing to fight over.”
“Holy potato!” said the Goblin turning away from the Elf. “How will we know what day it is? How will we know if the Moon is waxing or waning?”
The Elf replied, “How ingenuous you are, my dear. Do you really think the Moon doesn’t know what to do? It will carry on gradually revealing itself like it normally does, a little bit at a time.” And he did a mime to cheer up the Goblin. “A thumbnail, a toenail, half moon. Two thumbnails, two toenails, full moon. Then slowly it will fade away – a thumbnail, a toenail, half moon – finally disappearing again.”
The Elf ‘s ridiculous show made the Goblin smile.
“That’s the Moon’s little game. No different from what women would do to draw men into their lovers web.”
This slightly original take on things nearly made me laugh, but I held back so they wouldn’t run back into their holes.
“But what about the Days of the Week? They won’t have names anymore,” said the Goblin.
“It won’t be that bad, you’ll see!” replied the Elf, who seemed to have an answer for everything. “Do you think that just because you can’t call them by a name they won’t exist anymore? Don’t be so unimaginative. I honestly don’t think it’ll make much difference.”
“What are you on about?! It sounds like you’re saying there’s nothing to worry about,” said the Goblin, becoming rather anxious, as the idea of the Humans’ disappearance began to sink in. “How will we know how many Years have gone by since we were born? How…”
“But that’s a plus, isn’t it!”, interrupted the Elf. “We can make ourselves out to be younger than we are. The Humans did it all the time. Then they wrote down the dates so they couldn’t lie anymore.
There was always a record of it stored somewhere. Whereas not measuring the time passed, we won’t have to think about it anymore.”
“You’re right,” said the Goblin. “We could grow old without knowing it. Hurray!” The thought of that made him so happy he began skipping about, and I have to say I would have done the same, if my old legs had allowed me.
“Age won’t exist anymore,” said the Elf jumping from one rock to another. “Or ageism! Those wretched people who see old age as a parking lot, where you’re just waiting to pass away.”
He shot me a brief glance, then carried on.
“They think of our youth as the high point of life. They don’t take
experience into account. So if an old person -” the Elf glanced at me again, “- seemed younger than a young person, and didn’t behave like an old person was supposed to , he’d be regarded as ridiculous.”
“It’s true. They just focus on outward appearances. Oh! What fools!” The Goblin stopped skipping. “How did they become extinct?”
I had been asking myself that question. Not surprisingly the Elf had an answer.
“It started like this.” he said, settling himself down on a rock. “Some of them from fighting wars over religious arguments and then others tore themselves apart in exchanges they called business. And then some others – quite a lot actually – out of tune with what they saw as their lives, died by their own hand, or from drugs, prescription medicines they took to get some relief from the pain.
Others were just bone idle, one of their main vices while lots racked their brains over computers and a maze of technology. In the end, they were poisoned by the products they had made themselves.”
“Still, I can’t believe everything could just collapse like that,” said the Goblin.
“That’s shouldn’t come as a surprise,” said the Elf, trying to cheer him up.
“You’ve been around since the beginning so you should remember this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Many animals that existed in the old days are now just fossils. Those beasts didn’t use as many tricks but they ended up the same way.”
“If it really happened like you say, I’d love for one or two of those bigheads to come back here and see how everything is carrying on as it did before, without them.”
This idea excited the Goblin and he grabbed the Elf ‘s hand and they started to dance, crying out louder and louder.
“They believed the world was made just for them,” said the Goblin.
What kind of bamboo leaves had I eaten? Maybe GM ones? The two of them were unfazed by my presence by now. The Goblin even gave me a smile.
It was only when the Elf said, “Humans didn’t understand the world was made for Elves” that the Goblin stopped playing their game.
The Goblin said, “Do you believe that?”
“Of course,” replied the Elf.
“But everybody knows the world is made for Goblins,” said the Goblin.
“Oh! That’s rich!” said the Elf, squaring up for a fight. “For Goblins, eh? That live underground. The Sun, the Moon, the Sea, and the Countryside … what’s that to a Goblin?”
The Goblin got closer and, facing the Elf, replied, “For that matter, what does an Elf care about gold and silver mines, and the rest of the Earth below?”
Just as I thought I might have to intervene, a voice out of nowhere said, “What are you doing?” And there apeared a beautiful creature.
The Elf went up to her, “Can’t you tell? We’re arguing.”
“What about?” she asked.
The Goblin came up behind the Elf and added “I said the world was made for Elves and he said it was made for Goblins.”
“But who are you? A human?” They both asked, almost at the same time.
“A Human, ha ha ha…!” She laughed. “I am a product of man’s imagination, an illusion that became real. Exactly like you, my friends. Here you are, squabbling over stupid things, just like the Humans used to do.”
“Then you must be a fairy,” said the Goblin.
“Of course I’m a Fairy!” said the beautiful creature.
“Oh! A Fairy!,” the two of them repeated together as if they’d just discovered who she was.
The Goblin got closer, “You’re right, Fairy, we let ourselves get carried away. That’s weird we did that.”
“It’s not so strange,” said the Fairy, “the Humans were like that too. They argued all the time, and without realising which things were really worth arguing about and fighting for. That’s how they forgot their feelings.”
“Oh yes,” said the Goblin, “I know what the Humans would say. They took over our earth, digging with mechanical arms, waking us with huge bangs, extracting our stuff, because they thought it belonged to them. Nature had hidden it from them almost as a joke, just to see if they were clever enough to find it.”
I had to admit that they had a point.
“Yes, and that’s not all!” added the Elf. “They thought the things of this world had no other use but to serve them. They didn’t realise everything relied on each other, and was of use to something else. The history of mankind became the history of the World. How is it they didn’t realise they were turning the World upside down?”
The Fairy said, “Many saw their habitats disappear just because they were of no use to the Humans.”
” They didn’t understand they were harming themselves,” added the Goblin.
“How could they have got so blind?” asked the Elf.
“You know their expression: “The blind leading the blind.” Well they obviously made a virtue out of it,” said the Fairy.
She had a point.
The Goblin said, “All the fruits of the earth had been given to them. But they worked at trying to create new things but never noticed they were just creating illusions.”
“Or perhaps they pretended not to notice,” the Elf added.
“I’ll tell you a story,” said the Goblin, sitting down on a rock.
“Once, when there were still the Humans, I saw some women queuing at the local water fountain with pitchers on their heads. They were complaining. The weight of the full pitchers gave them a headache.
A few years later, in the same country, I saw they’d rigged it so that the water ran directly to their homes. But the headaches hadn’t gone away. Before the water got to their homes it had to be processed.
They used chemicals, which caused these headaches. A few years later, the same women from the water queue, were queueing up at a “supermarket.”
That’s a big shop that sold everything – where you could buy from looking at a photo, and sometimes even things you didn’t need but just because they were on sale. The women complained the water at home was polluted and undrinkable. They were edgy because they had to wait to fill up various containers. Hence their headaches.”
The Elf was laughing. “It’s true. The Humans were complaining about the distance they walked to their village. At first they had animals to carry them to make things easier . Then, to reduce the time it took even more, they used “cars.” They depended so much on these cars that there were so many they couldn’t move anymore in towns. They found they could get around more quickly on foot, so they went back to walking!”
The Fairy said, “They created a new illusion. Having this thing would make them luckier or cleverer or more beautiful or even more intelligent.
The Human thought that by owning something others didn’t have, he would be better than them. I, more than any of you perhaps, was a creation of their dreams. Dreams that helped them get through
the night, their rest from the daily grind. My role was to suggest situations and ideas to them, which I’d gleaned from their hidden desires.
I made these real during the hours they were free to think without constraints. They woke up in the morning able to face the day ahead with greater calm and enthusiasm. Others wanted to realise their dreams straightaway because they saw things in a different light. They made themselves think that everything was possible where there was a will to do it. Then they announced that the Humans lost a third of their life in sleep. If they managed to overcome that need, they’d be able to do more, so they started not to sleep, to suffer insomnia. They couldn’t relax anymore. They believed in nothing, unless it was verifiable by the waste paper ” money,” or the solid plastic paper called something else.”
The Goblin said, “Like those who went to school and studied books to learn how to live. Everybody was clever but could only talk about others who they thought were cleverer than they were, those who had read more books.”
“They no longer had a sense or a measure of things,” said the Elf.
“Everything was topsy-turvy. The Humans became confused. They no longer followed their natural rhythms; they lost any real contact they’d had between themselves.”
“Perhaps you mean that they didn’t talk to each other anymore,” said the Goblin.
“They talked to each other but they didn’t listen to each other,” replied the Elf. “Their illusions overwhelmed and disorientated them. It was a vortex. They knew what they were doing wasn’t helping. Their business was without the exchange of real goods. It was a gamble.
The lucky ones tended to get luckier and the unlucky ones unluckier.
Instead of correcting it, they went on talking and talking in order to convince themselves it was correct behaviour.”
“Perhaps the problem was the Humans didn’t believe,” said the Goblin.
“But they had things to believe in!” said the Fairy. “If only they looked around. If they’d given in to their feelings, travelled the world like Ulysses.”
“Instead,” said the Elf, “they took a wrong turn. They traded a life of harm for one of deliberate confrontation, challenging the world and each other.”
“You say that,” said the Goblin, “but maybe it was too painful and full of sacrifice. With their illusions, they didn’t suffer.”
The Fairy replied, “It postponed the pain, but the Humans were never happy. Overturning everything nurtured their aspirations. I believe it was inevitable they chose that path.”
“Ah! They would’ve had to have been Gods to understand that,” said the Goblin. “They just wanted to distinguish themselves from other animals.”
“But they ended up confirming they were animals like the rest, convinced that the earth revolved around them,” said the Fairy.
“They were under an illusion. And to think they studied the history of ancient civilisations, and attributed their unexplained fall to a lack of technology!”
“I’ll tell you,” said the Elf, “the Humans may have disappeared but the rivers haven’t yet grown tired of flowing, nor the plants of growing. And the sea doesn’t have to be used for traffic. You don’t see it drying up or changing colour. The stars and the planets still come out, the sun and the moon still set. Mother nature seems to be smiling again.”
“I dare say the earth doesn’t seem to miss those wretched people” said the Goblin.
“Well then, dear friend, that’s what you can tell your father,” said the Fairy.
“Sure”, said the Goblin, “I’ll tell my father: that the Humans are dead, but one can still hear the sound of wind that rocks one to sleep; that daylight is more brilliant than ever; that rivers and seas carry on.”
The Fairy said, “There’s no point saying all that. All you need to tell him is that the earth is clean now. He’ll know that’s not an illusion.” Then she smiled.
Just then, the wind started to blow and the branches of the weeping willow waved like an unfolding curtain. Then they were gone.