Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dante's inferno in the year 2102

As Dante arrived home he felt very tired, and hungry as his dog Scruffy welcomes him home with playful yelps.  He had been toiling fourteen hours on two jobs day after day and it was as exhausting as it can get, as far as he can remember.  It was already way past 11pm and he decides to reheat a quick dinner from the fridge. As he opened the fridge he found out that there was only one frozen dinner left.  He sighed and took only half of it, knowing that his beloved partner would arrive a bit later and would be hungry for food too.  He strokes his dog Scruffy and throws him a morsel from his dinner.

Things are getting tighter and tighter for Dante,  as it has always been as far as he can remember. Taxes are getting higher each time, even as wages are going down assuming one gets lucky enough to find a job. He and his partner did not have children, yet they had to support  four elderly people in the house: his own parents and that of his partner.  He resents the fact they had no choice but to support their elderly parents but he knew there was no other way. He, like his partner was sole offspring, and besides the state required them to support their parents under the force of the law. The state had long ago given up on public institutions for the elderly, doling out only paltry monthly pensions for them that was hardly enough even for their food alone. Anyway, he knew that their household arrangement was typical. It is after all in the year 2102, just into the twenty-secondth century and indeed much has changed over the past hundred years.

Over the last half-century, major companies and even cities have declared bankruptcy. He remembered his grandfather say they used to live prosperously in Detroit many years ago, and they left due to the city declaring bankruptcy after a long hemorrhage. Then one city came after another, and after another. The government had no more resources to bail them all out, being in dire financial straits itself. Many businesses have shrunk along with the population, and recent reports declared that the median age for his aging country was 46 yearsof age, a stark reality that was the result of  disastrous population policy along with government's heavy push for contraceptives and abortion over the last hundred years or so. He suddenly remembered it was so long since he had seen couples pushing baby carriages  around the malls. Nowadays his typical sight was of elderly people moving around in canes or motorized wheelchairs, and it was the younger breed who were assisting them around.

As he took the last  bite of his dinner, Dante wondered what the world looked like a hundred years ago. Were there many happy families strolling around in the parks and malls with their children? Did people manage on single jobs alone? Was it easier to find a decent job for a double-Masters degree holder like him? As he pondered these thoughts his domestic partner, Marko arrives. He had a dejected look on his face. What happened? asks Dante as he plants a kiss on Marko's lips.  Got laid off again, replies Marko curtly, and goes straight to rest in the bedroom which he shares with everyone. Marko looks even more tired than he was, he did not even eat the half-dinner I left over for him, rues Dante.

This situation is getting unbearable, Dante decides. Now I have to support five people. Marko is certainly getting to be a tough burden around, and he decides it was time to divorce him. That would rid him of three people off his back. It would be his sixth divorce in as many years, but he would take a half-day off tomorrow to get the paperwork done over with.  As he pats his playful dog Scruffy, it dawns on him that it might be a better arrangement for him to marry his dog, and a lot less expensive too. It would even be more practical and makes a lot more sense than marrying a bridge, for example. After all, he loves the dog - that is all that matters for the government to legally recognize the marriage - while the paperwork it will require will not be much of a problem. Sigh, too many problems he concludes…and then falls asleep on the couch beside his dog, away from the heavy snores of the five people in the shared bedroom.