False Ala(r)m

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Man, Woman, Boy and Girl live in a place called ‘The Edge’. For Boy and Girl, the place exists more in time than in space; for man and woman, it is located more in space than in time. Man’s job is to run; Woman’s job is to stay; Boy and Girl respectively learn running and staying. Day in and day out, Man runs, Woman stays, Boy learns to run and Girl learns to stay.

This goes on until ‘The Edge’ starts crumbling under the weight of all this running, staying and learning. The cracks get bigger with each step that Man takes, with each moment Woman stays put, and with each lesson that Boy and Girl learn.

As fear of ‘The Edge’ falling down becomes real, Man, Woman, Boy and Girl stop running, staying and learning; they start living. Man makes a rope to tie himself to a rock called ‘Roots’; Woman manufactures a glue called ‘Feelings’ and applies it all over the fraying walls and ceilings of ‘The Edge’; Boy finds a club to flagellate himself into running, even though his learning is far from over; Girl gets herself a pair of shoes made of heavy clay to force herself to stay even though she hasn’t mastered the art yet.

Then one day ‘The Edge’ falls down. Man is moored, he doesn’t fall with the falling edge. He just hangs in there — upside down, tethered to ‘Roots’ and suspended in a void with no name; Woman tumbles down along with the tumbling debris of ‘The Edge’ — she keep falling until she reaches the bottom of the precipice; Boy runs away from ‘The Edge’ as it falls down — but the cracks, widening cracks, follow him until he finds what look like another ‘The Edge’, which appears solid; Girl also falls with ‘The Edge’ — but she hits the body of Man hanging upside down in the nameless void and starts climbing back up with the rope fastened to ‘Roots’.

‘The Edge’ is gone but Man is still hanging on, Boy is living on ‘The Edge’ he has found but which has already started developing hairline cracks and Girl is working tirelessly to climb back. Meanwhile, Woman sleeps in the abyss blissfully oblivious to their agonies, fears and struggles. When she wakes up, she will make a new ‘The Edge’ right where she has dropped from her previous one. She will then call Man, Boy and Girl to live with her.

M Balam lives in a no man’s land existing between being and the illusion of being

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