Apples to Eden                           



“He who chokes to death on eternity, thrives on hunger.“            Folk Saying

     His majesty did not even disclose these mysterious goings-on to his spouse. For a whole week he waited, without saying anything at all about his quest. When precisely a week from the day he had departed, the vizier appeared in the royal observatory, the king jumped up and rushed to greet him. Nearly tripping over his words, he cried, “Tell me what you saw!”         “Honestly, your majesty, the land I visited looked just like anywhere, trees, and flowers, and stones; really, there is nothing new to disclose. However, I can tell you for sure that nobody is living in that place, so I think you can make your claim to Eden.”

     A tear rolled down the king’s cheek as he pondered this ineffable news. Trees, and flowers, and stones, and not a person in sight! With a whistling sigh, the king reached into his royal pocket and presented the vizier a handful of gold. As an afterthought, he enquired, “Hey, vizier, was one of those trees by any chance an apple tree?”

     “Not at all, your majesty, I only saw cacti there.”

     “And did you see, by chance, any snakes?”

     “Certainly not, your majesty, I saw no creature deserving attention, only a few locusts here and there. In all honesty, it was a bare land that people left long ago. No water flows there, and hence there is no life to unfold.”

     His majesty had no intention of dwelling on details, but he couldn’t help feeling that an apple tree and a snake would increase the credibility of his claim. Hence he gave his vizier yet another secret assignment. “I command you to plant an apple tree somewhere in Eden, and on your way there to collect the longest snake you can find and relocate it under the newly planted tree.”

     The vizier tattled not a word, and again departed, this time by cover of night to fulfill the wish of his majesty. Swiftly he carried out his task, and as swiftly returned. Eden now properly equipped, his majesty readied himself to announce its discovery to his subjects. He arranged for herons to fly, and fanfares to be trumpeted throughout the kingdom, as he announced his news from the palace balcony. Though not in so many words, the king suggested to his people that they might even consider settling in Eden. Thus it didn’t take long before caravans of families, with their sheep, their camels and horses, could be seen gliding toward Eden, guided by hopes and pious intentions. As rumors fly, people understood that their king hadn’t made up this story of Eden, and deemed the story to be both good and true.

     The settlement in Eden grew large and famous. Subjects of other lands, and even their kings, asked for permission to visit Eden, to be blessed by walking there. Moguls invested in the place, building man-made lakes, artificial landscapes and palatial homes. Once unfertile, Eden began to thrive like the rest of the kingdom. Foreign rulers lined up to pay homage to the king and to thank him for finding and caring for this cherished land.

     Yet a lack of cleanliness most unfortunately marked this spurt of growth, information that shocked his majesty. “How can Eden not be clean?” asked the king. “Did the lord intend this to happen, or have we failed to enact proper rules?” The king decided he had better pay a visit to Eden himself, to set things straight. An advance team preceded his majesty, making every arrangement for a successful visit.

     The king hadn’t visited Eden yet, as he was preoccupied monitoring his scientists. The queen hadn’t been to Eden either. She kept a busy schedule and preferred to dissociate herself from her husband’s projects. On this occasion, however, for medical reasons, the queen did not wait for an invitation to join the visit to Eden, for she had heard in secret that the mud of Eden might have magical powers. She announced firmly that she and the crown prince would travel with the king, news his majesty accepted reluctantly. “Why,” he grumbled, “should the queen hang around in a place like Eden, a place one might almost say I created myself?” The queen dressed her frail son in many layers, and prepared for departure. His majesty couldn’t see why the company of the boy was any more necessary than that of the queen, but resigned himself to a lack of privacy in the land of his dreams.

     Once the royal family and their splendid entourage had arrived in Eden, his majesty announced he would get right to work. The queen promptly informed him that she also planned to make good use of her time in Eden. “For example,” she told her husband, “I have a few official calls to make, and I shall parade twice through the town square, and I even plan to visit a few attractions, should time allow.” The king had no reason to suspect another agenda. He headed off to carry out to investigate the town’s cleanliness, and no sooner was he gone than the queen bundled up the crown prince and headed directly to the apple tree, swaying serenely on a muddy embankment. For indeed the king’s men had managed a great engineering feat by redirecting a distant river so water could reach Eden. Though not much water flowed all the way into the city, experts said it was enough to color Eden with a tint of its original appearance. At a great distance in time from the four original rivers, the murky look of the available one did a fair enough job.


© Karim Chaibi 2005