Sunday, July 03, 2005

Scavengers all




The dogs scamper through the debris, when they hear voices. They have a glazed look in their eyes, intoxicated with a surfeit of flesh, bones, blood, meat. Glutted, they look through us. After a moment, they slide back into the crevices only they know of. There is enough there to feed them for seven generations.

“Our shop was 120 years old”, he tells us. “My great-great-great grandfather hawked cloth through the city. Carrying a trunk on his head. Who will buy cloth now, in this city?”

Gold, cloth, silver, sweetmeats, flung out of crushed cupboards, and grabbed by opportunistic hands. Diamond rings cut off a sixteen year old girl’s fingers. A woman’s neck, arms, feet cut to sever the gold ornaments off her.

Wealth accumulated over seven generations, crushed under sand and stone, a huff and a puff, in a minute. Naked hands claw at twisted iron rods in broken concrete slabs. Hands jump to grab pieces of iron from a running truck. Kilos and kilos of iron to be sold. Business has never been so good.

A dead body retrieved from under three slabs of concrete by hands and spades. Cameras flash. The retrievers pose with the dead body, hunters with their trophy. One more good deed done.

Everywhere there are powerful pictures, touching sound-bytes. Let’s make the most of the disaster. Let’s retrieve all we can from the debris. There’s enough there to last us all, for seven generations.

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