Friday, 18 January 2013

Friday Flash Fiction - Banana Republic

I watched the parade coming down the beach, seeing flags waving, hearing the whistles and cheers, and beamed with pride. They carried Kapi, the first elected government representative from the lowest social caste, on a sedan chair made of bamboo and decorated with feathers and bright flowers. I had finally done it. Kapi was smiling almost as much as me when they turned inland to carry him to the government building.

Two years ago, I inherited a banana republic from a great aunt. Not a banana plantation, a whole country. A tiny island called Nollberg that had seceded from a larger nation that had seceded from an even larger one. When I first came here two years ago, only two of the three social castes were represented on the government council. Those two representatives didn't see the need for the lowest social caste to be represented at all. Pogo, the upper caste member, had particularly objected, even though the low caste made up about two thirds of the tiny island's population.

The debates were long and heated. I had to look up obscure points of law late into the night and fight to overturn some of them. Even though there were only three of us, it took a long time. We still had to govern, after all.

It came down to taxes. The poor paid no income tax and had very few possessions. But they reasoned in a circle. The poor pay no taxes, so they don't have a representative, and they have no representative because they pay no taxes. Nobody saw any reason for the low caste to have a member on the council except me.

But now I had done it. Full representation in just less than two years. I watched as Kapi's chair was lowered to the ground and he stood to wave at the people.

That's when the shot rang out. At first I didn't know what had happened. Kapi stood there for a second, looking confused, and then the blood started to soak his shirt, and he fell. The rest of the people scattered in a hurry, screams and shouts filling the air. Someone shuffled me inside, and I found myself at the council table. Pogo was the only other one there, and it took me a second to realise that he didn't look shocked at all. He looked pleased.

"Pogo? What just happened?"

"Someone shot Kapi," he replied in a plain tone, as if remarking on the weather.

"Why? Who even has guns here..." I trailed off, remembering who I was talking to. Pogo's caste was rich, by island standards. They could have got a gun here easily. It was stupid to assume that was difficult.

Pogo gave a condescending smile. "Some people do not want the poor on the council, I suppose. It's for the best. Taxes buy rights, and the poor pay none."

Nobody from the low caste would want to be elected to the council now, even if they had the right. I had changed the political landscape of Nollberg with two years of debates and legal changes. Pogo changed it back with one bullet. I just hoped it wasn't the end.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I was lucky to be inspired by a dream this week.
PPS - Hopefully next week will bring something else inspiring.

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