From the moment we are born we are told, either by family, society or institutions, that we need to follow a specific belief system. That we need to worship, respect and surrender to an unknown supreme being. Some of these beliefs provide a stringent set of rules to follow when communicating and following a life in this spiritual journey, while those who encourage you to seek a personal encounter with the same supreme being let you do that based on guidelines of their own beliefs. Regardless of the initial intent of the folk driving these agendas, as sincere as they might have been initially, these have evolved into a heavy dose of power, wealth and sheer manipulation of the vulnerable. Many believe that we are created in the image of the supreme being. If that is true, what does it say about that source, given that we mask our lives with a devotion to this supreme being and at the same time are perfectly fine showing hatred towards each other simply because of having different assumptions of the supreme being, varying even by the slightest? Set in the forgotten land of the Genies, a barren land for as far as the eye could see, it consisted of several small villages sprinkled across. The folk lived a basic life, fishing and rearing cattle, and during certain months, they would work hard to grow various grains in a designated patch of land in each village. A stream ran across all the villages, and her water was fresh and clean, originating from a mountain far away. People wore dried animal skin to cover parts of the body and children played with little bits of animal skeletons. All of these villages and the land they dwelt on were owned and ruled by the mighty emperor. A man with magical powers and more than that, a heart of gold. He was loved, more so adored by everyone. He sat on his throne every day and watched his kingdom, and as he looked he would set his eye on a newborn and tell his most loyal servant and friend, Bakr, that he knew how many strands of hair were on the baby’s head. The emperor was wise, caring, and very deeply in love with his people. Once when he was on his daily walk, he saw a child struggle with tying the laces of his shoe. The emperor smiled and called out to the boy. The boy was 14 • The Emperor Cried hesitant, not knowing how to approach the emperor. Finally, with the guidance of those who accompanied the emperor, the boy approached the emperor who bent down and tied the shoelaces for him. The emperor while still on his knees looked up and said, “Anybody else?” with a smile. One day while at home, he noticed his son play with a top, a truck of sorts; it had wheels and it was colourful. He smiled as he walked out onto the terrace of the palace. There he saw little children playing with sticks and little pieces of animal bones. They were dressed in animal skin, while his son was wrapped in fabric. He raised his right hand with a tear in his eyes. “LET THERE BE LIFE,” he commanded as he drew his hand over his entire kingdom. The land turned green. As he moved his hand from left to right and back and forth, huge trees appeared, the huts that people lived in turned to small houses built of stones with roofs made of tiles. Cattle appeared, and so did tiny ponds filled with clear blue water. The emperor smiled as he saw life come into his kingdom. People were clothed like his son. He looked all around and as he did, he stopped as his smile disappeared. He kept looking in sadness, perhaps with a pinch of fear, but surely with some sort of uncertainty. Far away in his kingdom, was a huge tree, a tress that wasn’t part of his plan? He had warned his disciples to stay away from that tree, and they obeyed him. The tree came to life, too, and immediately had beautiful fruit hanging off her, at a height that was easily reachable to men and women. There was a certain aura around her that would attract anybody towards her. A magic spell of sorts. Tagore Almeida • 15 The emperor gulped hard as he turned to look at the village closest to the tree. The people were happy, filled with a creation they never knew before. The emperor sat on his throne, and his disciples one after the other bowed to him in gratitude. The emperor was deeply touched by this and his eyes welled up with tears of joy. A cold wind blew across the kingdom and with that came, for the first very time, the fragrance of the fruit of the forbidden tree. Mankind got introduced to it amid their celebrations. The moon came out, bringing with her millions of stars. Life was born. Creation celebrated. In joy, however, with a glance towards a certain tree, the emperor shed a tear.