I know what you think. You think you are better than me. You see this tag on my body and decide you are superior. You think he is a four-legged beast. How can he be even compared to me, let alone be my equal? I can see it in your eyes, this sense of self-importance, this pompous air you have of being a cut above my kind. I can feel it in your gaze, this contemptuous disregard you have for my brothers and me. I can recollect it all, how you tossed pieces of stale food to us every now and then, in a condescending manner. I have seen you waving your hands in the air, all high and mighty when I come near you because I am different.
You stand aloof in your ivory tower of arrogance and assumption. You mutilate our bodies with tags to keep us at arm’s length. But I ask you to come closer and take a look at this tag on my body. You think in your haughtiness that all tags are the same. I assure you they are not. You would not even be able to read my tag. The letters would appear strange to you. I bet you have never seen such symbols before.
That is because it was not you who tagged me. And I was not always the dumb and docile, mild and meek four-legged beast who now stands before you. Although when I had the chance to be whatever I wanted, I chose to be this gentle creature rather than a human being like you. You see, I don’t belong to your planet, I am not from this Earth.
Let me start from the beginning. I am from the planet Uniformis in the Centaurus Galaxy, 13 million light-years away from here. The first primordial voyagers of the universe who settled in Uniformis named it so because of the fact that they were the only kind of organism in it. They were known as Uniforms. But there the similarity between the citizens of Uniformis ended and the differences began.
The Uniforms divided themselves into two classes by virtue of their birth, the Masters and the Slaves. Anyone born a Slave got tagged and remained a Slave for the rest of their existence. Except if they received the most severe form of punishment. Then they were cast adrift in the eternal expanse of space, with the power to become whatever organism they wanted to be. That is if they ever ended up on a planet harboring life-forms. The Masters were certain that this magical instrument of hope (called the Transmorpher) was the most extreme form of torture in the whole cosmos. Because they were aware that most of the universe was vacant and void, that the terror of nothingness was the supreme terror of all. Because the probability of landing on a heavenly body that harbored life-forms was as remote as finding a needle in a haystack.
However, I am getting ahead of myself here. Let me tell you about my life as a Slave and how it came to be the harshest of all punishments befell me.
The society of Uniforms was much like your society. The Slaves toiled through night and day, hunger and pain, and life and death. They kept the Masters satisfied, entertained, and untroubled by the mundane problems of existence. The Masters wallowed in the fruits of the labor of the Slaves and never had the foggiest notion of sharing the abundant opulence with them. Meanwhile, the Slaves lived short, brutal, and ugly lives filled with suffering.
It was one such godawful day when all of a sudden something snapped inside my soul and whatever was waiting to gush forth from deep inside came to the surface, to the clear raging daylight. I was standing in the middle of a huge edifice, in a chamber where countless cauldrons of food were being prepared for yet another grand feast. Ladles full of gold and tumblers full of silver poured forth from crucible to crucible as delectable concoctions were being brewed for the pleasure of the Masters.
Yes, the Uniforms subsisted on the elements. The Masters partook lavish dinners of rare and precious ones, while the Slaves resigned themselves to small bowls of gruel prepared from commonplace stuff like iron and tin. Many times, the Slaves survived on the abundant, although unnourishing elements like hydrogen and nitrogen. And it was not too rare when their bodies forced them to compensate for the lack of sustenance, by making a porridge of bromine and plutonium, which were detrimental to their well-being but at least had more nutrition.
There, in the building where the banquet was being cooked, I saw him fall. A Slave like myself, he fainted from the sheer exhaustion of relentless work and starvation. I rushed to him, plunged my hands into the bubbling cauldron of gold and silver, and offered him a mouthful.
“Hey, you there! How dare you offer the Masters’ meal to a lowly Slave?” screamed a Master, as he stormed towards us.
“Right now, this lowly Slave needs it more than any Master. And what makes you say the cook cannot have the very broth he has fixed?” I said.
“What audacity! No Slave can have for himself that which only the Masters can have. How did you forget that simple truth, you scum of the universe?” He yelled, fuming with rage.
“I would have loved to forget. However, my mind refuses to blank out such injustice,” I said, my eyes meeting his, in a collision of glares.
It was then that the Masters subjected me to the Memraser for the first time. The Memraser was one of the milder forms of punishment for Slaves who dared to stand against the Masters. It obliterated the mind of the rebellious Slave; it erased his nonessential memories, wiping the slate clean of his defiant thoughts, and left only the memories necessary to function as a subordinate worker.
I slumped on the floor unconscious. When I came to my senses, I was in an enormous hall. The Slaves were busy hammering out clothes of titanium to keep the Masters warm and comfortable in the ruthless winters of Uniformis. I looked around and saw a Slave, thin and shriveled like a skeleton. He was struggling to strike with precise power, as he shivered in the biting cold of that snowy morning.
And at once, everything came flooding back to me, the revolt inside me had refused to die. The Memraser had failed to erase that memory which made me what I was. I stood forth once more, as Spartacus must have done in your own lands many centuries ago. I was ready to fight the injustice that was being committed in plain daylight.
I walked to the Slave, with a tunic of titanium in my hand and covered his shuddering body with it.
“Who is this swaggering Slave who defies the unwritten law?” roared a Master, as he came before us.
“I uphold only the written law; the rest is gibberish. In every atom of creation are the words which scream that one who creates something has the first right to it,” I said, gazing at him with unflinching eyes.
“Insolent Slave! You will pay for your nerve at this very instant!” My temerity had put him in a frenzy. He was beside himself.
And so it was that the Masters subjected me to the Memraser for the second time. I flumped on the floor unconscious once more. When I woke up, I was in a vast chamber and the incessant pounding of mortar and pestle filled the air. I was at the place of compounding. Various potions, nostrums, and elixirs were being formulated for the vigor and vitality of the Masters.
And at once, everything came surging forth, and the revolt inside me had refused to die. Nothing could efface what I was. I stood tall as my true self, unerased, and untouched by the Memraser. I had stayed invincible through the entire ordeal.
There before my very eyes, in the chamber of remedies, collapsed convulsing on the floor a Slave who was ill from years of sickening servitude. I grabbed a bottle of the prized panpharmacon, reserved only for the highest echelons of the Masters. Then I darted to the Slave who was thrashing about in mortal agony. I poured the panacea on him, saving him from the clutches of certain death.
“You, scoundrel! What effrontery to lay your hands on the drug of immortality?” A Master charged bellowing at me. “What fool are you to know not the mighty difference between the Slaves and the Masters? For your outrageous arrogance, you have earned the ultimate penalty!”
Thus I stood in the Hall of Justice, facing the Master judge for my presumed crime. The Slaves were always given an opportunity to defend themselves before their final sentence. The whole affair was a travesty of justice.
“What are you?” asked the Master judge.
“A Uniform,” I replied.
“No, you are a Slave. And what have you done to be here?”
“I did what real Uniforms do. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“Wrong. You have tried to turn a Slave into a Master. And what will we do with you?”
“Allow me to be a true Uniform. Let me be myself.”
I knew all too well nothing that I said mattered. The minds of the Masters were already made up. Everything else was only a superfluous spectacle to please their puny conscience.
“You are a Slave. You can never be a Master. And you will always be a Slave. Nothing can ever untag you. Your tag defines you for life,” said the Master judge.
Then he made the proclamation.
“I condemn you to the Great Void. For your subversion, I sentence you to the terrors and torments of the timeless travails among the tenebrous with the tantalizing tortures of the Transmorpher. Let rectitude and equity prevail over distortion and imbalance!”
He brought the hammer of justice down with a thundering force. It resounded through the radiant room where the Masters held their comedy of a court.
Thus the Masters locked me inside a Transmorpher and launched me forth into the Great Void where I was to drift in perpetuity unless the invisible currents of space carried me away into some heavenly body which harbored life. If I was to ever make such a fortuitous landing, then the Transmorpher would allow me to mutate into whatever organism I chose to become in that place. If I was unfortunate enough to make a landing on some planet that was barren and bereft of life, then I was to spend my remaining days enclosed within the Transmorpher. For once it had landed, there was no way to launch it again in search of other habitable worlds. The Masters had indeed sublimated evil in their final punishment for the Slaves. They had shown their true nature of malevolent magnanimity in all its vile colors.
By sheer chance, after eons of drifting without aim in the Great Void, the Transmorpher touched the ground. It was a planet harboring innumerable forms of life. That was your planet, the Earth.
I remember it so well, gazing with joy at the beautiful blue waters as the Transmorpher entered the atmosphere of the Earth. The magic machine fed into my mind reams of data about the multitude of creatures that roamed your planet. It gave me the different details necessary for the difficult choice I had to make at last, after the landing.
You might think the choice was obvious and easy to make. A piece of cake, as you say among your kind. But I am a Uniform. I have seen and known more of the universe than you will ever be able to see or know in your little limited lifetime. You know what came to my mind at the very moment I was aware of the existence of humans? The thought that humans were like the Masters, nay, they were even worse than them. They not only abuse each other but they also abuse all other creatures around them. Hell, they don’t even refrain from abusing the very planet that keeps them alive!
Then I went through your history, of how glorious a creature you could have been! Almost like the Uniforms themselves. If only the corruptions of your heart had not destroyed you! How ruthless is the passage of time and tide!
The Transmorpher landed on a secluded seashore in what you call Australia. For what seemed like an age, I listened to the lullaby of the waves, the lovely lapping of faraway waters. I sat lost in thoughts of the immense possibilities shattered when humans took the wrong path and their evil descent into a cruel civilization as the Uniforms did many millennia ago.
In the middle of this meditation on which my future hinged, I came across the creature which I chose to become. The lamb that now stands before you. Yes, I am talking about the lamb, so dumb and docile, so meek and mild. There are many reasons why I made this choice. Foremost among them was that this creature symbolized the Slave on Earth more than any other, just like humans symbolized the Master more than all other beings. Also, I read of that Lamb who came two thousand years ago. The saga of his rebellion for justice and his final torture on the cross resembled my own trial in Uniformis in all its dreadful details.
I doubt you will ever understand the choices that an alien makes. Why an alien who could have been the master of the Earth if he wanted decided to be a poor slave instead. I assure you; you are wrong if you think you understand.
Nothing can ever destroy the Uniform inside me. Nothing can ever annihilate the revolt that brews inside my soul whenever I see exploitation and extermination. Even the Transmorpher has no power to change the one true Uniform.
You see this strange tag, don’t you? I hope you remember when your time comes.
This morning, on a remote farm in Australia, an unusual event took place. It started when the sheep were being loaded on to the trucks for transportation to the slaughterhouse, as usual. One among them, a black lamb, jumped on the driver and kicked him out. What followed was mayhem. The sheep, led by the black lamb, coordinated with each other in military precision and set themselves free. As of the latest update, they were marching through the desert liberating their brothers and sisters from the ranches along the road. Besides, other creatures have joined the rally too. Kangaroos and koalas, devils, and dingos along with wolves and wombats were also spotted. Evolutionary biologists say the long-awaited march for the true equality of all creatures has just begun.
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