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Poem: "The Greatest Legacy" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Greatest Legacy"
This poem came out of the November 7, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] curiosity and [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "eternity" square in my 10-31-17 Time card for the Space and Time Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] daisiesrockalot. It belongs to the Aquariana thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"The Greatest Legacy"


Some of the superpowers
that appeared on applications
for expedited immigration
fit neatly into categories --

elementals, teleporters,
healers, speedsters, fliers --

all skills the Maldives could use.

Others, however, were unique
and fell to the President to decide
what they had to offer his country.

Mamadou Latheef looked
over the rim of his glasses at
the round-faced Chinese man
who stood in his office.

"Welcome to the Maldives,"
he said, waving at a chair.
"Please, have a seat and
introduce yourself."

The telepath reached over
to touch the man's wrist. They
didn't have an interpreter who
spoke Chinese, so Boman
was standing in for now.

"His name is Wu Bingwen, and
he goes by Chops," said Boman.
"The police came for him, because
China dislikes people with powers,
and so he fled for his life."

"What is it that you do?"
the President asked Chops,
because the single word Seals
on the application wasn't very clear.
"Can you give a demonstration?"

"He used to carve seals for people,
but then the seals began to do
strange things, and the work
dried up," said Boman.

He made a gentle gesture
of encouragement, and
the older man took out
a stamp and a blank card.

Chops pressed the stamp
against the paper and lifted it.

A red mark appeared on the card,
faintly glittering, as if touched
with gold or silver dust.

Chops spoke in a low voice,
and after a moment, Boman
translated for him. "The mark
will not fade, and it cannot be
copied or forged or any way.
The seal will only work for
its owner, and if stolen, it
will not serve a thief's hand."

"Remarkable," said the President.
"What do you think about making
a life here in the Maldives, Chops?"

"He is not a young man," said Boman.
He has no college. He only knows
how to carve seals, and he doesn't
know what work he can do here,
but he promises to try very hard."

Mamadou looked at Chops.
His curly hair was still black, but
the first hints of silver threaded
through his beard, and fine lines
stretched across his forehead.

He wore glasses, and behind them,
the corners of his eyes turned down
with the weight of an unnamed sorrow.

Mamadou's heart ached for all of
the refugees who sought sanctuary
because of intolerance elsewhere.

He picked up the card, tilting it
this way and that so that the ink --
if ink it was -- caught the light.
"How long will this last?"

Chops made a long, flowing
gesture with both hands.
"Forever," Boman said.

All of a sudden, the President
knew what he wanted from
this particular immigrant.

"What would you say to
a new job, not quite like
your old one but related
in a way?" Mamadou said.
"I would like you to carve
things for the government."

Chops looked puzzled
even after Boman translated.
"What things?" the telepath said.

"Could you make money --
I mean, carve plates to print
paper bills or press coins?"
the President asked. "Could
you make a seal of office
to mark official papers?"

Boman murmured reassurance,
and Chops spread his hands.

"He says that he will do
whatever work you give him,"
the telepath replied. "Sir, please
be gentle with him, his life has
been very difficult for some time."

"Of course," Mamadou said.

He signed the expedited form
and then handed it to Chops.
"Welcome to the Maldives."

Chops started sobbing.

"It's just relief, he'll be
fine in a few minutes,"
Boman told Mamadou.

"I hope so," said Mamadou.
"Please stick with him until
you can find a translator who
speaks Chinese -- there must be
someone around. He'll need
help with Refugee Services."

"Yes, sir," Boman said,
coaxing Chops to his feet.

The Chinese man bowed
so low that Mamadou worried
he might fall over, but he was
graceful and meticulous.

Boman led him away, and
Mamadou turned his attention
to the next task at hand.

Over the next few weeks, he
received progress reports on Chops.

The carver had declined a private island,
so Refugee Services had settled him in
a beautiful two-bedroom villa with a pool.

Boman shared the fact that Chops
enjoyed fishing as a hobby, which
secured him a one-man dhoni
that was not unlike the kind of
junk rig catboat used in China.

Refugee Services also found
a translator who was thrilled
to leave his tiny apartment for
one half of a much larger villa.

Importing the kind of stone
that Chops needed for carving
was costly, but still worth it.

The President exulted over
the printing plates and samples
of the beautiful new currency.

The bills showed scenes of
Maldivian culture, and the seal
underneath the denomination
showed a complex hologram.

When the coins were tilted,
the number on the back
seemed to stand up.

Mamadou sent a note of
thanks on his best stationery.

The Maldivian Monetary Authority
would have its hands full making
the change from old to new currency,
but they could handle the surge.

It would be interesting to see how
the first uncounterfeitable cash
would affect the global economy.

A month after that, Chops
arrived in person with Milan Lu
in tow, bearing the Presidential seal.

Mamadou was delighted to discover that
its imprint on paper changed when tilted,
silver to one side and gold to the other; while
in the middle the palm tree and accessories
rose in full-color, three-dimensional glory.

"The greatest legacy is that which
benefits the widest number of people
for the longest period without limit to value,"
he said. "You have done your country
a great service today, and I am grateful."

Milan translated this in his lilting voice,
and Chops gave a nervous bow, but
the carver looked a great deal better
than when Mamadou first saw him.

It was good to help people, especially
refugees and other distressed travelers
who qualified for zakat according to Islam.

Mamadou knew that he was not supposed
to take favorites among the immigrants,
but as he watched his new seal dancing
in the light, he had to confess that

he had a soft spot for Chops.

* * *

Notes:

Mamadou Latheef, President of the Maldives -- Elected after recent upheavals, President Latheef won on a progressive platform to stabilize Maldivian culture and ensure the survival of the nation in the face of climate change. He supports green energy, social programs, religious tolerance, and working with foreign interests for mutual benefit. While his people are wary about the religious tolerance, they recognize the urgent need to make allies if they are to survive. Mamadou has wavy black hair, black eyes, and brown skin. He is short, slim, soft-spoken, and overall unimposing. It's easy to underestimate him. He does not even realize that his exceptional way of understanding the future and influencing people are superpowers rather than ordinary skills.
Origin: Mamadou was born with the ability to influence people, which has grown stronger with age and experience. The extrapolative gift grew in later, probably around puberty.
Uniform: Business suit.
Qualities: Master (+6) Politician, Expert (+4) Environmentalist, Expert (+4) Family Man, Expert (+4) Seaside Skills, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Muslim, Good (+2) Tolerant, Good (+2) Wealth
Poor (-2) Respect from Other Nations
Powers: Average (0) Super-Extrapolation, Average (0) Super-diplomacy
Motivation: Preserve the Republic of the Maldives.

Chops (Wu Bingwen) -- The surname is Wu, personal name Bingwen, written in Chinese style. His original soup name is Yìn (印), a Chinese word for seals carved from stone or wood. The term "chop" comes from the Hindi word chapa and also works in English, so that's what he uses in the Maldives.
Chops has golden skin, brown eyes, and short curly black hair with a moustache and small beard. He is Chinese and used to make a meagre living by carving seals, but when his superpower grew in, he started being able to do things that commanded higher prices. He has no family left, and that upsets him. He is struggling to recreate a social network in the Maldives. He only speaks Chinese, so he has a translator who follows him around; he's also trying to learn Dhivehi and English enough to get by.
Chops is a super-gizmologist who bought his way into the Maldives by offering to counterfeit-proof their government documents. Among the things he has made for them are new money plates and an embossing tool for the President's desk which leaves a raised holographic design that looks gold from one angle, silver from another, and then pops up a three-dimensional palm tree with a star and crescent. Each tool only works for its designated user; someone could steal the President's seal but could not make it work.
Origin: His superpowers grew in gradually as he pushed the limits of his art, but he suspects that his experimentation with different ingredients for inks and dies may have contributed.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Master (+6) Stamp Carver, Good (+2) Meticulous
Poor (-2) No Family Ties
Powers: Master (+6) Super-Gizmology
Motivation: To make a place for himself in society.

This is the seal of the Maldives., an important emblem. Seals are widely used throughout East Asia.


Boman Ogilvie -- He has fair skin, blue eyes, and short reddish-brown hair with a sparse mustache and beard. His heritage includes Middle Eastern, Irish, and American. Boman is married but has no children yet. After moving from America to the Maldives, he threw himself wholeheartedly into his new society. He eagerly availed himself of an island getaway, which he uses when he needs to relax away from other minds, usually on the weekends. During the week, he lives in a nice apartment in Malé. Currently Boman works as a government consultant when they need a telepath.
Origin: His power grew in gradually.
Uniform: Boman likes to dress in smart casual or casual wear, and he likes soft colors.
Qualities: Good (+2) Flexible, Good (+2) Government Consultant, Good (+2) Immigrant to the Maldives, Good (+2) Philosophy, Good (+2) Willpower
Poor (-2) Low Alcohol Tolerance
Powers: Good (+2) Telepathy
Motivation: To be helpful.

Milan Lu -- He has pale skin, almond-shaped black eyes, and short black hair. His heritage is half Chinese and half Canadian. He speaks Chinese and English well, French badly; he is struggling to learn Dhivehi. Milan is not a soup, but his twin sister was. He fled China after she was murdered and he was nearly beaten to death also. He still has scars from that on the left side of his face, cutting through his eyebrow. He has been accepted into the Maldives as a refugee. Currently Milan works for Chops as his translator, and they share a two-bedroom villa on an island near Malé.
Qualities: Good (+2) Existential Intelligence, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Koudi Player, Good (+2) Translator
Poor (-2) Traumatic Grief

Koudi (口笛; pinyin: kǒudí) - very small transverse bamboo flute
-- List of Chinese Musical Instruments

* * *

"The greatest legacy is that which benefits the widest number of people for the longest period without limit to value. No one but the Prophet Muhammad was given that role as the seal of God's message."
-- Cat Stevens

Boman's island is about two acres, of which about half is sandy beach and the other half tropical jungle. He is the proud owner of one dozen coconut palms among other edibles, and has begun adding new varieties of locally appropriate fruiting plants. The beach villa is tucked into the jungle on the side of the island where the beach falls away steeply into the water, making it more accessible by boat. The villa consists of several round huts stuck together to form different rooms. The entry comes through the dining room into the kitchen. In this picture, the living room is to the right of the front door. The teleport pad is off to the left. The kitchen has a two-burner propane stove and oven, a double sink, and small microwave, and a refrigerator (not visible, to the right of the microwave). The living room lies to the right of the dining room. It has a built-in couch and cabinets. The bedroom lies to the right of the living room. It has a queen-size bed and two chairs. The doors lead to the living room and the bathroom. The bathroom lies in a niche between the bedroom and the livingroom, connecting to both. It has a rainshower, a sink, and a toilet (not visible, off to the right of the sink). The teleport pad lies in a small round room to the left of the dining room. The prayer rug points toward Mecca, adhered to the wooden floor with rug adhesive. A GPS beacon makes it easier for teleporters to find the location.

Boman's apartment has a balcony, living-dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.

Chops declined the offer of a private island in favor of a beach villa. See the floor plan. Here is the exterior back, front, and pool. It has a left bedroom and a right bedroom, each with its own bathroom. The kitchen and living room fill the middle.

A dhoni is a type of boat popular in the Maldives. Chops has one like this. The handling is similar to a junk rig catboat, which has a slightly different sail used on various boats. They're small, meant for one or two people, ideal for fishing or traveling between islands.

Milan's apartment has one room for the kitchen, dining, and living room plus a bedroom and a bathroom.

Chinese seals are used for various purposes.

Dhivehi is the main language used in the Maldives.

Crying is a form of stress relief with many benefits. A person under pressure will often burst into tears when that pressure releases. Understand how to handle a crying friend or stranger.

This is the old currency of the Maldives. This is the new currency. Unlike the local version, the Terramagne-Maldivian currency is printed on a synthetic which can be folded but will not crease. Check out the security features, handling, and exchange. This page shows notes in circulation. Maldivian coins have also gone through various iterations.

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam, giving to the needy. Eight kinds of people may receive zakat. T-Maldives is especially considerate of refugees who have fled there due to superpowers. In return, the refugees are extremely attached to their new home.

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