On top of the world


Are you on top of the world? It’s only the seventh floor. Last year you were on the eighth floor. How can you be on top of the world? You are  squashed between other skyscrapers. They are much taller than you, like older brothers and blackmailing sky gods. There, I see the god of the Indians. Then there is the god of the Muslims. And next to him there, that is the god of the Chinese. Where is the God of All Things, the one who says He lives not in temples made from human hands? I see only the god of money, the god of the wealthy, the god of prosperity. His name is Mammon, haven’t you met him yet? He shook hands with you, on your first day in the office.

If you jump, do you think you will fly? It’s only seven floors down. Seven floors up, you always wanted to die. But there, there is another god of the Chinese, in the horizon ahead. His tooth is worshipped there, in that big, red building. They call him the enlightened one, but I call him the tooth fairy god. What about him there, the big yellow one? He has three red Chinese characters scrawled on his face. Zhen zhu fang, they call him. No, no, he is the god of commerce. The Pearl Centre, the pinnacle of his fame long diminished since the 1970s. What about the Five Stars Tours? Are they the god of the five stars? No, they are the wise men from the East, carrying the five elements. Earth, Wind, Fire, Wood and Water. But they too disappeared. So did their wise men.

Would I disappear as well if I jumped? Look carefully, they are merely roof tiles. Like a coarse and uneven blanket, textured like the woolly bits of an IKEA throw. $12.99 on a discounted price. Separated by gutters and compartments, sheltering the immigrant workers who cook in the kitchen but eat in the backlanes. If I jumped, will it hurt? The sky is the limit, but here we’re looking down. Down into the kingdoms of the world and the glory they behold. The god of appetites, the god of human flesh. All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me. Never, I say to Mammon. Away with you, and be gone forever.


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