The Fourth Estate Was Once a Beautiful Place

When I lived on the Fourth Estate, the property upheld democracy in our country. The estate’s sprawling fields have always nurtured the crop of new ideas and let the flowers of opinion grow free, whether they were red or blue or somewhere in between. The premise of the Fourth Estate was to provide the people in the surrounding lands with produce that nourished their minds and challenged their accustomed tastes.

The estate was once a beautiful place.

My old family home, a stately bungalow stood at its centre. Everyone always wondered how a house that had been built with bricks of different materials had managed to prevail. My answer? The bricks, whether of asbestos or mud, were cemented with the spirit of truth that is strong enough to keep any establishment firm. Just the right amount of cement: not too liberal nor conservative. Now as I go back, I can see that someone has attempted to vandalise our house, deliberately removing all the bricks not made of mud, leaving gaps in the facade.

They are in the process of painting the house scarlet, a colour that incites senseless panic and anger. The colour of stop signs that bring you to a halt. The fumes of paint are overwhelming and suffocating. However, mere paint cannot gloss over the facts. The building is no longer structurally sound and the cement has dried up. Another disturbing incident: someone has boarded up the beautiful French windows, blocking the sunlight that illuminates and the breezes that usher in change. They have attempted to fix rhinestones over the boards, but this is a farce, because when you enter the house, it is reminiscent of an echo chamber.

The estate was once a beautiful place.

The pastures rolled on for what seemed forever. In addition to minerals such as potash and iron, the ground was naturally rich in truth and liberty and free of the pests of prejudice and intolerance. It gave rise to carrots, which benefit eyesight and promote a healthy world view. Spinach, a leafy green rich in iron (to iron out our differences) and maize that boosts the circulation of new ideas in our minds. A few years ago, the new owners interfered with the fields as well. Artificial pesticides were added to the soil in order to increase the yield. The cycle of harvests is unnaturally fast and the produce is of a poor quality. The distorted vegetables are exaggerated in size. Their strange flavours betray the synthetic soil that spawned them. Falsehood is quick to creep in under the guise of modernity.

The estate was once a beautiful place.

I remember running through the rows of trees in the apple orchards. I would listen to the inhabitants: the myriad birds nestling in the trees always had something to say. In the morning, the voices of the lemon yellow New World warblers would sing with youthful optimism. They sing in appreciation of all colours of the rainbow. Later, the flock of golden eagles would swoop in, professing their allegiance to the estate and the need to protect their arboreal residences from intruders. Finally, at dusk, the wizened owls would hoot ominously of a time when the estate would not be able to sustain us anymore, posing pressing questions. The chatter of my feathered friends was like an interesting dialogue, where everyone got a turn to chime in. Only cunning magpies occupy the estate now, unperturbed by the multitude of felled trees and barbed wire meant to silence the birds. They carry the dark aura of deceit and corruption, and screech loudly over each other in a meaningless cacophony. They are the only ones enamoured by the bejeweled windows.

The estate was once a beautiful place.

The well near the orchard was one of my favourite places. The clear water of objectivity quenched my thirst in the oppressive heat of my outrage. The cool, clean water always restored my composure and helped me to analyse situations neutrally. Without the water of the well, our produce would never have come to be. As I haul up the metal bucket of water I feel nostalgic for what my family home once was. I glance at the murky water in the bucket, and the suspended mud particles in it disgust me. The sun is setting now and the vibrant streaks of pink and coral in the sky comfort me, following all the gloom in the estate. Walking away from the well, I look up and see a lone, white figure. Stopping to squint, I realise that it is an egret bird. I can hear its squawks, an independent voice from the unending screeching of the magpie. Just as I smile for this bird, a glimmer of hope and freedom in our increasingly dismal estate, I hear a loud bang. I shudder as the squawks grow more hysterical and then stop abruptly. Then a splash.

I run back to the old well,

And see where the gutsy egret fell.

Featured image credit: Alissa Eady/Unsplash