[Photograph by: Jose Vicente Ortega Ricaurte. Bogota, 1948.]
Agitation, asphyxia, and nausea were the ultimate tokens before the exigent oxygen ensued into smoke. He could not feel the fierce, itching pain on his blistering skin, as his lungs overflowed with smoke.
The coal-black lungs of a disposable.
The disposables were these shadows of dirt, creatures of the streets with protruding sharp teeth. These beasts who lacked a soul, who walked around the town terrorizing the former sacred ones. Wandering around with dark scales on their bodies and their revolting odor exuding from the crusts on their skin. The ogres of the night, who had no name or value.
Yet, this particular disposable had been born as a sacred one. He even had a sacred name once.
His name was Muyso.
The sacred name given to this moribund disposable at the time of his birth; a time when there were no disposables in the town of Bacatá.
Muyso was born on the twentieth day of the lunisolar calendar, in between an era when Bacatá was still envisioned as the Athenian acropolis of the south continent, as it was a town surrounded by the essential qualities of nature along with the creative powers of wisdom.
Now, Bacatá was nothing more than a rotten, urban decay replete of perversion and vice from the former sacred ones.
Years subsequent to the birth of Muyso, the roots of the struggle in Bacatá sparked, entrenching the sorrow and misfortune derived from the human plague and leaving as legacy hundreds of orphans uncared and unprotected.
The struggle began right after the scrupulous murder of a martyr; a standing hawk who sacrificed his life for the lives of others. The martyr who confronted the leader hog as manner to resist his malevolent attempts to suppress the voices and pride of the sacred ones.
Muyso was only eight years old when the leader hog shot at the standing hawk. A single metallic bullet was enough to penetrate the soft skin of the hawk, to infiltrate his heart and tear apart his blood vessels.
His heartbeat ceased.
Bacatá collapsed that same night of the cruel murder of the standing hawk. The sacred ones were frantic and wanted to compensate injustice with revenge.
Sweet, cold revenge.
Within these subversive insurgents who combated for justice, there were the parents of Muyso, Sue and Chía.
Sue worked in agriculture, while Chía worked in astronomy.
They lived in a small blue house with a yellow door and a vegetable garden.
They were happy; they were a very happy family.
But, their happiness did not last long, because when Muyso was only eight years old, their happiness wheeled away through the air. Through the ruthless air that the war surmised.
It occurred one night. A night when the sky was almost hollow but for the thick orange fog around. A night when the nocturnal squadron broke into their blue house.
The comrades of the nocturnal squadron were all wearing black. They also had masks that were covering their faces.
They first went for Sue, tied up his hands with a rope and violently carried him out to the street where a black vehicle was parked. Meanwhile, Chía ran into Muyso’s room and pushed him into his wardrobe.
“Don’t make a sound.” Chía said to Muyso in a very soft, calmed tone.
These were the last words Muyso heard from his mother.
After placing Sue inside the black vehicle, the nocturnal squadron went back inside the blue house. Chía was in the kitchen, waiting for her capturers to take her with them.
She did not resist.
Muyso remained petrified inside his wardrobe for a few hours, without making a sound as instructed by his mother.
When he walked out of the wardrobe, he searched for his parents all over the blue house. He pinched his arms, hoping it was all a dream.
It was not a dream.
Muyso was left alone and forgotten.
The first five days after his parents’ abduction, Muyso did not move away from the yellow door. He did not eat or weep. He just stared at the yellow door.
The subsequent fourteen days, Muyso sobbed until he had no more tears. He survived from the fruits of the vegetable garden, that was located on the back of his blue house.
By the nineteenth day, there were no more fruits in vegetable garden and although Muyso was almost starving, he felt too afraid to wander around Bacatá.
On the twenty-first day, Muyso could not bear the painful cramps on his stomach. He went out of the blue house to search for help.
Muyso put on his two espadrille that his mother had given him for his eighth birthday and walked out to the concrete jungle of Bacatá.
He rambled the town begging for a piece of bread for hours, but the sacred ones ignored his pleadings, as well as the pleadings of the other hundreds of orphans who were also left alone and forgotten.
The priority of the sacred ones was not to aid these orphans. Their priority was to combat for a greater cause: their voices and pride.
Muyso continued imploring for help. But, all he received was rejection and repudiation.
When he was about to give up on his life, an older woman named Elissa loomed up in his path.
Before the war, Elissa did not have a decent reputation within the women of Bacatá. She was even known as the witch of the town.
Elissa had been forbidden to reside inside Bacatá, but she remained to live in the outskirts after the men of the town implored her to stay close by. She was their sole carnal comforter of their deprived lives.
But, Elissa moved back to Bacatá right after the conflict sparked. Her psychic wisdom guided her back to the town. She took over an abandoned mansion and assisted the orphans with the occult spells she had learned from her female ancestors. Matriarchal ancestors whose isolation had taught them to survive with the unusual harvests of nature during times of famine and starvation.
“I know what you need.” Said Elissa when she found Muyso laying down on a sidewalk, pale and weak.
She handled him a pipe that contained some malign venom inside. He did not know what it was inside the pipe, but he still accepted it as she had been the only one who had shown him a gesture of care.
He took the pipe using the last bit of strength on his arms. She instructed him to place the pipe inside his mouth and lighted the mixture with a match she had in her left hand.
“Inhale!” Elissa commanded.
He then inhaled two more times.
The plain combination of the coca leaves and tobacco dispersed into the wilderness the pain of hunger and isolation.
No more hunger.
No more isolation.
Muyso survived eight long years of his short life, out of his constant use of this malign venom.
Eight years that allowed the town of Bacatá to transform into the rotten, urban decay.
Eight years that permitted the sacred ones to mutate into humans.
Eight years that enabled the innocent orphans to mold into the hideous beasts known as the disposables.
Muyso had become the sixteen-year-old disposable whose lungs were about to collapse.
The conflict ended at some moment of Bacatá’s indefinite existence, when the leader hog won the war after he unilaterally usurped the chief role of the town. Since the sacred ones had mutated into humans, they all abandoned in the oblivion their voices and pride, as well as these orphans who were the main casualties of the war.
Indeed, humans detested the repulsive presence of the disposables. Throughout the passage of time, their repulsion transcended into hate and abhorrence; to the point where they could not even stand these nuisances within their sight.
The humans gathered and agreed to force these monsters out of Bacatá, after they could not bear their hideous existence inside their town.
Not having anywhere else to live, the disposables had to establish their own town inside sewerage system of Bacatá. Everyone called it the underground town.
Muyso lived for almost two years inside the underground town.
Over the years, he learned to have a very humble but calmed life. He slept on a bed made out of cardboard and used old newspapers as blankets. He ate the leftover food scraps of the humans and drank the water of a nearby pond. He also collected bottles and cans he found in the streets of Bacatá and exchanged these for coins to purchase the malign venom that made him feel less sad.
He had a humble, calmed life before his black-coal lungs overflowed with smoke, as the now chief hog had ordered his legion to pour gasoline inside the underground town.
Inside the home of Muyso,
Inside the home of the disposables,
to dispose of them.