The Mystical Egyptologist
Little is known for certain about Achillas, the now-national hero of the Egyptians, recently declared by the Nationalists. His early life, like the blazing sky of mid-July, is shrouded in cloudy obscurity. Some scholars speculate that he must have been a nobleman: their conjecture dreamed from the sand’s buried, time-wrecked tablet found in Giza, only a stone’s throw away from that touristic three-dimensional triangle, and bearing the aristocratic language of our ancients. The uncertainty of our translators comes from the curious deviations of the script. I, myself, chief Egyptologist of the government( well the previous government to be specific and vague) scanned over that aged rock and was much delighted in its unexplainable quirkiness — the lords of Achillas’ time around the mid 3rd millennium BC — forcefully impressed the images of rams, giraffes and owls onto thin grand rocks. But Achillas, out of spite, disdain or maybe even a cruel disposition, carved only the figures of slaves. The syntax is perhaps the most beautifully tragic of languages I have ever encountered.
The conjunction in his script, the simple “and” connective, is an odious pair of shackles moving from the first slaves foot to the following slaves neck. Now you might wonder how I knew this to be a language instead of a measly picture. Though I shudder to reveal my uncanny method of understanding the past, an insight so miraculous and beyond comprehension that my own mother feared to look too deeply into my eyes, lest (she thought) the spirits inhabiting my body would curse her eternally, I am willing to forgo my long-held secret for you , my love, the Egyptian people. It was not from studious labor that I achieved the status and height I hold. I have not studied a day in my life. I’m shocking truth, I have never learnt to read. My mother and father were uninteresting and uninterested peasants whose dusty bones litter the sand, lying undisturbed next to their forebears. No, it was not from the teachings of stern parents or even schooling itself. I have learnt and written not with conscious effort but through dreaming. Ah what a sweet feeling it is to pour out one’s mysterious burden. Life to me is a dream. Every joy of discovery, of peaking closer through the curtained window of shades and obscurities has flashed to me in the bliss of ecstatic nothingness. A voice, a god, a spirit, call it what you will, I have long stopped trying to find the source of my gift. I actually dread thinking about the Gift’s origin out of superstitious fear it my leave me for my disrespectful questioning. This voice lead me down the Nile to unearth Pharaoh Art’s sarcophagus, commanded me into Alexandria’s stinking bazaar to buy Cleopatra’s lost diamonds for a pittance. from an ignorant merchant, whispered into my very soul the words of my now famous doctoral thesis: “Pyramidal Architectures and their Afterlives: the Birth of an Ancient People”
So too, did this voice alert me to this most mysterious of rocks. It was found, apparently, by a careless shepherd who thought the sight of the mighty pyramids, along with the unsightly tourists, might jolt his sheep from their sleeping sickness. Walking past a conspicuous brown patch in the luminous yellow sand, the shepherd stumbled onto the greatest archaeological find of the last century.
As soon as the shepherd brought it to the local police station, well actually as soon as the policeman graciously compensated him by shooting one of his sheep to eat, I received a phone call from the curator of the Egyptian museum in Cairo to March as quickly as possible to decipher this object. I promptly put down the phone and immediately went to work by falling asleep on the closest couch in my house.
And this was the spectacular dream I, it, envisioned. I was Achillas. I entered his consciousness as the grains of the top-half of the sandglass fall into the lower — slowly and inevitably wholly. I was on a long dirt road, looking out into the infinity of the dunes, and an infinity of dirty, diseased crowds, marching ceaselessly like a reluctant wave, towards the half-built pyramids. The procession of the dead, for by the sullen, gaunt away of the crowd these were not men but aching bodies yet alive, stretched behind and ahead endlessly. I thought about my past, of fleeting sparks of anger and betrayal. The fire of injustice welled deep within me. I remembered the day I could not bear to remember. Could a mere pity shown towards that slave boy, a simple morsel of bread, not enough to stave off hunger for two hours, let alone a day, excite so much cruel fury in Pharaoh that he would instantly enslave me. “Only a slave pities a slave” I mimicked repeatedly and sardonically, twisting further and further the sinews of my heart.
And then something odd, something inexplicable happened. I sensed me. Achillas thousands of years ago felt himself embodying me. Two souls rapt together over an arch of history. Achillas, I, emboldened by this embodied sage of the future, felt his pulse begin to jump. He had been hiding a smallish rock for weeks now in the palm of his hand, gripped so tightly that bloody circles imprinted themselves onto Achillas’ decaying hands. He looked over the rock once more, remembering the detail that went into creating this cryptic will, a message to eternity which he thought only moments ago would sink to the depths of shifting, scolding history, his last joke on this unforgiving world, which though it would not remember him, he would never forget, or forgive it.
His rock read as such:
“Slaves are we born
And slaves do we die
But we brave souls
on this damned road
Die on our own terms
We built the Pyramids
The lowly, the dying
Remember us or else
You are dead already”