Sunday, 25th April 2010
Once upon a time, on a planet far, far away that was so small there was only one country on it, a series of unexplained, unconnected, events happened. These led people to think that the end of the world – their world – was nigh.
The Year was 2012 – incongruously, they had the same calendar as us – but it was still January. According to their Prophets, The Three Pairs of Twins Nasa and Maya, Nostradamus and Merlin, Sagan and Siegfried, by 12-12-12, the Universe would implode. This was the first time they had agreed on anything.
This was going to happen because their Moon would move out of the Age of Aquarius and enter the Eighth House; but, more importantly, their Sun would be a part of a hat-trick syszgy where all eight planets in their solar system would align with it. This was something that had never happened since what they called The Dawn Of Creation, given the different speeds, orbits, and collisions with meteors that all the planets had undergone during the previous zillion years, which added up to a Hundred Long Counts.
This impending feeling of doom meant different things to different people. The orthodox religious wore sackcloth, grew their hair, and became vegetarians. Children argued that it was useless going to school because they were never going to get the opportunity to use their education in a career. People who didn’t care, one way or the other, whether the world ended or not, went about their daily business as usual, “living each day as if it were their last”. This meant that some did their duty – and some did not.
But there was a noticeable increase in the amount of pregnant women, since both natural family planning and contraceptives were abandoned.
The House of Parliament tried to maintain a semblance of normalcy, for after all, nobody was “sure” that the world would end – it just seemed that way. After all, before the End Times Movement had gained momentum, everyone had considered the (non-?)event to be one big joke. Suggestions to build a spaceship and launch the President and her husband towards Earth, Superman-style, had been laughed out of court by The Lady herself.
But, as usually happens, there was an amusing side to all this – if one can ever call dark humour “light”.
Now as we know, most fortune tellers are wont to say “I told you so” – when they can “prove” that one of their vague predictions could be said to have an inkling of prophecy in it. And this was no exception. Nasa and Maya had spoken of The Cloud of Obfuscation. An undersea volcano exploded, and the forces unleashed were enough to throw half-solidified gobs of magma far and wide. The sea became a seething mass of steam – and this, upon contact with the air, turned into a low-lying cloud that impeded the flights of airships, pods and hovercrafts. Bingo! They were vindicated. Some even said that airships with purple stripes had been carrying arms; this when war had been outlawed a century before.
Nostradamus and Merlin had been talking about Bridges to Nowhere. They did it, mostly, in quatrains, and these could be interpreted according to anyone’s agendas – as well as their own. So when the drunk driver of a double-decker bus took a wrong turned and jammed his vehicle under the bridge (and told the policeman who turned up that he had been trying to deliver the bridge to his cousin), and later, an electricity pylon fell on a footbridge and dented the railings, and, later still, a convoy of truckers tried to take a shortcut across a footbridge and it collapsed, they had their “evidence”.
Sagan and Siegfried had published a treatise called Poles Apart. And when physicists and mathematicians confirmed that there would be something called an optimal solar maximum and a superlative pole reversal, they all but smirked in the Press Conference.
The upshot of all this, of course, was that the sun rose on that purportedly fateful day … and twenty five hours later, it set again, without this world having ended.
There was a collective sigh of relief – for some. Fast-track legislation had to be enacted to issue permits for land reclamation, giving that the population would soon burgeon and additional land was needed to grow crops (and build homes). People recalled the fuss that had obtained at the turn of the century, when profiteering associated with The Millennium Bug (“Portable Nuclear Shelters!”) had been rife…
People are resilient – so by the end of the second month of the year following, it was business as usual.
So you see, all those who repeatedly mutter “Only in Malta” when something peculiar happens locally… are wrong.