It’s night on an old city street, a place where ghosts and angels mingle. Here an aging Hare Krishna with shaven head and orange robe sets up a stall. Fragrant sweet chilli soon sweats from his large metal pot. Tenderly he serves all who come – the drunken; the broken-hearted; the down-and-outs; the Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Gnostics, Hindus, Sikhs; and capitalist insomniacs.
Sipping Yogi Tea, their fragile egos soften. One man looks into another’s eyes and sees vulnerability and fear masking an abysmal desire for love. They talk on, laugh, cry and hug. Others do the same. Suddenly all judgements, tribal hostilities and barriers are gone. Here is humanity serving humanity.
And so the night continues – inside the giant cage, sirens wail, people howl in dejection or pass out on the couch, 24 hour news flashing from their screens. But as the Sun gilds the grey streets and unloved gardens, there’s a buzz that’s yet to make the breaking headlines.
Where once giant billboards peddled fantasies of happiness, whitewash obliterates it all. And now every hoarding spreads a different message.
“Love is letting go of fear.” Passers-by stop and wonder. Spontaneous conversations break out between neighbours. Children dance and old men cry for the first time in their lives. “Without you the Universe is not beautiful.” A woman with a hare-lip looks up and smiles.
By the flyover, commuters stuck in traffic frown as they read: “Fast running doesn’t guarantee meeting a destination.” At the town hall, the developers arrive with a group of clean-shaven councillors, who flush at the Almighty’s omniscience: “You are not for sale!”
The Sun continues to shine. “May your mind learn to love with compassion.” Police cars race up and down; lines of enquiry are pursued. A muttering tramp squints from the shadows. Where just last night he’d dosed beneath the glittering teeth of business, he now ponders ancient wisdom: “The spirit which gives life to all is love.”
By mid-afternoon, minions have been sent to tear down these anti-consumerist slogans. But people protest, knock down their ladders, plead that they remain. “Don’t take away my hope!” a thin Creole woman wails. “Not when the world’s just been given back its soul!”