Schools for the Biddables – Part 1: And So It Begins

islandOnce upon a time, in a balmy village on a small tropical island not far from the ocean core, there lived a group of people called the Biddables.

The Biddables were descendants of a group of simple fisherfolk and vegetable farmers who had been on the island since the very beginning of time. They were a kind and gentle lot; their only complaint was that the days on their island were far too hot and the nights insufficiently cool. Otherwise, their existence was safe and reasonably happy. They were content to continue in the ways that they knew and understood until war and famine in faraway lands brought new peoples to their island; peoples of different colours and smells but all Dociles similar in temperament and culture who intermingled and intermarried with the Biddables until they eventually became Biddables themselves.

The Biddables had their own system of divinely-appointed rulers who governed them with benevolence but who wore triangular headgear and rode in special carriages overflowing with layers and layers of fragranced silks and cushions. One day however, and without warning, the Biddables awoke to a frightening piece of news. Their divinely-appointed ruler of the 16th generation of divinely-appointed rulers had sold their island to a ruler from the land of the Pierinae, a land far, far beyond the waters and the lands of all of the Dociles of the world. Now what should we make of this new ruler? they wondered.

leavesThe answer hardly tarried. The new ruler, the Pierid, began teaching the Biddables a new language and different kinds of dress. He and his fellow Pierinae showed them how to build houses of brick and interesting places with many rooms called schools. In exchange for these seemingly excellent indicators of progress and development, for the Pierinae were highly regarded as being the most developed and esteemed people of the world, they extracted the island’s coconuts and cloves, its sweet-smelling leaves and wonderful seeds, and brought these back to their eager families and friends back home.

The Biddables were at once and at the same time awed and perplexed by the Pierid and his kind, but life seemed well, strangely safe in the face of this new equilibrium of observance. The Pierinae never seemed to fumble as they strode tall through the dirty streets of the island which seemed to – mind you – become dirtier every year as more and more Dociles began their slow conversion to the state of being Biddables. The Pierid in particular, spoke with the resonance of such authority in his voice; his words picked and conveyed with such thought and care unlike the basic words and vapoured ideas wafting always so quietly amongst the Biddables. For what is there to consider, they reasoned, except forging a livelihood sufficient for our wives and our children? We are simple folk who live simple lives. If not for the Pierinae, we would not have such broad channels of commerce for our produce and now, our wares! We are happy, no, happier than we have ever been on our island near the ocean core!

And so life continued through many more generations until one day, a new Biddable chose to speak up. Now, to say this individual was a Biddable was perhaps something of a misnomer. For this Biddable had fast words and a sharp tongue, unlike other Biddables who could only articulate in the slow and fluid way of island folk. This Biddable seemed so… well, UnBiddable. And everyone, including himself, acknowledged this with a reverence that was almost satisfying.

UnBiddable was eventually chosen to attend a school of the Pierinae where he could learn to walk and talk like the Pierid; not for any reason other than sheer benevolence, they asserted, for was this not how rulers were to care for the commonfolk? It certainly looked like natural selection nurtured in the environment of clever, thinking people. And everyone was happy, including UnBiddable himself. Indeed, he learnt to walk and talk even faster than the Pierinae in that school and when he competed with them in their halls and jumping fields, he was always crowned first many times over.

It seemed only obvious then that eventually, after his return to the island, UnBiddable would start to believe that he should be the Pierid and not the original fellow who had come from so far away from the ocean core. For why should we allow ourselves, he asked in a loud voice incessantly for all of his neighbours to hear, subject ourselves to the pernicious demands of a group of fellows who hardly understand us?

riverHe spoke and he persuaded, uttering many times over the wonderful, magical idea that freedom from the Pierid and the Pierinae was a desirable thing; in fact, the only thing worth fighting and dying for. But should we not have our rivers and jungles back? he called, and what about our leaves and our seeds, our soil and its harvests? UnBiddable eventually succeeded in turning a number of Biddables into less-trenchant versions of himself: the UnderBiddables they were called, who served UnBiddable and his mission with a cultivated, tenacious focus.

When the end of the beginning came, there were tears and contestations of opinion, accusations of treachery, forgery and lost promises. And at one surrealistic, surrendered moment, it seemed unclear to everyone who (and where) exactly was UnBiddable. For the throng of voices all claiming suddenly to be UnBiddable – the Great UnBiddable! – was deafening.

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