Memorial

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 9.39.35 pm

Yesterday, the day he died, every screen in every rail station turned black, emptiness blanking the listings of the trains to-and-fro, times of arrival replaced by a pair of dates bookending ninety-one years. Everywhere were the sharp white letters telling you to remember his name.

Today is the second day of national mourning and the memorial has grown, every screen in every rail station now displaying his picture, oddly gentle, radiating paternal gentility instead of sternness. Even the day’s date and time are gone from the screen. None of it matters, none of it is as important as remembering.

Tomorrow, improbably, the picture will spill beyond the confines of the screen and cover whole pillars, every one in every station. Growing in size every successive day, like the mass of bodies piling up at the Parliament House to pay their respects, creeping across the floor and along escalators and up to the edge of the platforms.

By Sunday, the day of the funeral, the portrait will have swallowed the entire station, every single one of them. Commuters speak in hushed whispers and tiptoe over ground sanctified by the pixels of his visage, creeping along the edges of his face for fear of stepping on it. To sully his picture would be to show disrespect, to spit on the clay bones of the country he had welded together. The trains fall silent. Still the photo of the old man swells, grows and grows, flooding over rail lines and over the hard ground like buckets and buckets of white paint, until the unrecognisable vectors of his face, visible from the stratosphere, reach the infinitely long borders of the country and begin to sink into the sea.

Advertisements