I don’t know when it all started, but every summer seemed even more scorching than the last. Not only had it got hotter,
but the effect it had on people was increased restlessness, wild
ravings and generally unpredictable behavior.
Thus when it comes to describing this particular August it
will be of no surprise to find the ground already like a sweltering
furnace that could turn the chassis of a car into white hot metal
and could melt car tires into mush on the roads. Pedestrians
walking for more than five minutes would feel their boiling
blood pounding in their veins, while the air they breathed up
their nostrils became not a gas but a searing temperature that, if
they didn’t get themselves inside quickly, could be permanently damaging to their noses.
Our protagonist was hurrying along the street hoping to
quickly find refuge in his air conditioned office. He still
couldn’t believe how they had dared to build the car-park so far
away from the office; it was fully fifty feet. See? This is what
he got for choosing to take up a teaching post at a high school.
If only he had been a little smarter he could have chosen a better
position; easier, more straightforward, more comfortable; something
not even a potato could fail to master. He couldn’t think
what that post would be, but if he could, that’s what he would
do, plain and simple. But where is a potato most at home? On a
potato farm, or cooked with a nice bit of meat.
He finally made his way into the building. It was a little
better in the corridors; at least he was out of the sun, but it was
still stifling as hell. Just a few more steps and he could make his
way into his cosy den of an office.
He opened the door and flicked the light switch. The
desired illuminating effect failed to materialize. Maybe the bulb
had gone. He went over to switch on the air conditioning.
Great! Another power cut; this was just what had happened.
He sat down and loosened his tie. He couldn’t grumble too
much about his present life. Only that it got too hot in the summer
if there was no air conditioning. The sweltering heat made
him remember the days when his mother would pour boiling
water over the pigs and then slaughter them.
There were several letters on the table, most of them invitations
to conferences, dinners or lectures. He taught mineralogy.
How could such a subject cause so many people to seek him out
as a lecturer? Without a doubt, mineralogy was an important
subject and life would be impossible without minerals, but he wondered exactly what benefit was brought to all these people
once they had heard his lectures?
The students would always doze off during class. (Thank
God that there were still kids going to class in this day and age.
Knowledge! In these tumultuous times people should never forget
the importance of the pursuit of knowledge. Knowledge is
power!) In the front row was a scattering of students who sat
attentively and would even linger after class to ask every question
under the sun. At times like this even he would want to
doze off. Thus he was puzzled why he always forced himself to
carry on with these lectures; and never could think of a good
reason for it. (No, the most shocking thing was that these lectures
could exist in the first place; and could even be repeated!)
“Your lecture really was simply exquisite!” A crowd of
people surrounded him.
“You spoke so well. Such original ideas and insightful reasoning!”
He racked his brains to come up with exactly which
parts had been his original ideas.
“Especially the part about mica!”
Mica? He had totally forgotten the contents of his lecture.
Maybe he really did have great talent as a lecturer. He needed to
mull that over carefully a while longer. He wanted to go and
seek out the recordings of his speech, but then whichever brainless
adolescent they had put in charge of the equipment would
have either damaged the recorder or lost the tape somewhere.
He never got angry. Actually he had no kind of temper on
him at all. Moreover, he had always had just that same single
topic for all of his lectures: saving Taiwan’s mining industry.
Marble, dolomite, porcelain clay, mica. Ah yes! Mica! So that
was when he had brought it up, in the east; but what difference
did that bit have from when he had talked about limestone and talcum? Aren’t the oil fields and natural gasses a bit more interesting?
And then there was earth and water conservation, examples
of mining techniques, a new kind of plastic explosive and
all manner of such damned things. He took a deep sigh. He was
quite contented now, quite contented. No longer did he have to
sweep out the pigsty, feed the pigs, ....