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A Miser’s Paradise: Kayla Lee’s winning Young Writer’s Competition entry

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Lantau 2030+. By Young Writers Competition winner Kayla Adara Lee.

The southern winds have no power here.

Small island utopia, home to magnificent water buffaloes and blue skies. Built on vast swathes of tussocks, Lantau is home for the old man across the street, the dog that begs for scraps every evening. It’s home for all of us.

We grew among the trees, free from the smoke machinations of surrounding lands.

Slumbering volcanoes lie in repose along the coast, a cradle for the woodland creatures that now roam through the bushes and shrubs. Hundreds of millions of years ago, they battered and shaped the land into the near paradise it is today – an oasis in an urban world. The small scatterings of modernity have managed to peacefully coexist with their rural counterpart so far. Complacent and warm; the quintessential sun-warmed incubation of childhood.

Underneath the iridescent surface, there lies the sinister encroachment of greying skies, that carry both the stench of pollution and corruption. For all the time that our kind have lived in this world, species have been born and died, both noticeably and silently. Sailors could once, on any given day, glimpse white dolphins leaping through the skies. Pods that engaged in play with tourists, careening and pirouetting for joy.

But humans have not been kind.

We’ve destroyed their habitats. Denied our faults. And still claim they live, despite none being seen since. Soon, perhaps, it may be our turn. Karma does have its repercussions. In our time, the hourglass drains faster.

Gone by the multitudes, dying by the millions. We do not notice it until too late, until our ignorance has paid the price. We are but an island in a sea of skyscrapers, Atlantis against the world. A paradise soon to be lost.

I see skies choked with dark smoke one day, then fleetingly pale and devoid of anything the next. Even the acrid smell is better than staring at the emptiness of the purely colourless dome overhead.

The water buffaloes are gone, sunken into the deep bogs and fields that once grew wild until now. Presently, they lie trapped with every leaf and every blade of grass beneath a cobblestone surface.

Big Buddha is gone, razed, and in its place, corporate beasts, 1,000-feet tall and twice as wide.

We question if we have the power to stop what is coming for us. Of an age  dark and terrible, when all that we’ve known will be forgotten from history –as easily as slipping into quicksand.

It may be an inevitability, but we have the choice to delay it. We play deities both cruel and benevolent, after all; to the animals below us, it seems almost as if we have all the power in the world.

The lilies in the next-door garden and the coalescence of stars in the night sky that I weave my irises through at night tell me otherwise. We are merely human, susceptible to beauty and alone in the universe. It’s not too much to ask; the simple act of joining our hands to protect a single island.

I am a jaded person, but a starling on my window sill never fails to let a smile play on my lips, if only for a few moments.

I may be tired, but not enough to forget that I am angry. It is our fault, our inability to prevent the oil-slicked tide that allowed this to happen. We have caused the Sixth Extinction, a mass extermination of all we once took for granted. The next Ice Age will come, felling us by the dozens. We will retire into a cold slumber, all we’ve made taken back by the tides, until we’re as lost as the volcanoes of old. The starlings will no longer sing in their high sweet tongue – all thanks to being afraid of making a bit of noise.

We may be one island amongst millions, but this is our home – the home of your neighbours, your friends, and your families. If not for you, then raise your voice for them.

Image: Baljit Gidwani – www.evoqueportraits.com

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