My fourth entry in the self-portrait marathon
I’m personally against seeing my pictures and statues in the streets — but it’s what the people want.
Never read about the Turkmenbashi right before going to bed. While I slept, a bland, doughy face came looking in the window.
Tink. Tink. Tink. Water dripping on a steel roof in the prison yard.
The golden statue revolves on top of its pedestal not in order to follow the sun, as malicious outsiders claim, but in order to keep from falling into shadow. A positive attitude is a powerful potion, chant the people’s deputies.
Tink, tink, tink: spoons on glasses in the golden-domed palace. The blandest of smiles, announcing the abolition of the death penalty. Across the boulevard at the U.S. embassy, it’s like a group orgasm as cellphones in pants pockets all begin to vibrate at once.
I am a bystander in my own dream. Who are all these blue horsemen flourishing their sabers so cinematically? They gallop into the forest in a large, public park just as some demonstrators — Young Turkmens, I guess — lead a mob of military police into the same forest from the other side.
Is it that I have no stomach for gore, or that, fed on a diet of bloodless history, I lack the mental imagery? The trees hide everything. I hear shots and screams, and the winnying of horses.
Half of the horsemen come out, but none of the police. The voice of the omniscient narrator hesitates, then tells the truth. The horsemen were patriotic defenders of Turkmenistan; the police were vile enemies of the people. There will be democratic elections. Tink, tink, tink.
Now I am there in person, and so are you. We bloggers have chosen Ashgabat as our next gathering spot — it’s centrally located, we say. The elections were a smashing success; they have democracy now. The Turkmenbashi’s head smiles blandly from the top of a revolving stake.
The former secret police have new jobs as pimps and pickpockets, thugs and drug runners. They follow us everywhere. Four of them rob us at knifepoint in a crowded restaurant.
Our shouts for help arouse nothing but studied disinterest from the other diners. Then I get an idea. Tap your spoons against your wineglasses, I urge my companions.
Tink. Tink. Tink.