the golden key//mulumba tshikuka

there is a stoic man living upstairs. he owns a golden key, of which he hides from everyone. when he is defecating, the golden key tells him stories. living directly below, i am privy to many of the tales. i have taken liberty of recording the last one.


once upon a time, a brilliant artist of the court traveling through the forest in search of inspiration was captured by two robbers. they beat him, stripped him of his royal garb, and forced him to be their slave. he was made to launder their clothing, cook their meals, and tend to their horses while they mocked, threatened and shouted rude insults at him.

the artist was not allowed to paint, but when the robbers slept, he would sketch pictures in a book that he hid. the pictures that he drew became worse and worse as his captivity continued. eventually, all his drawings began to look like the scribbling of a child.

one morning the child woke to find the robbers had abandoned him. finally, he was free!

when he returned to his kingdom, much to his astonishment, he was no longer able to paint anything but childlike art. the harder he tried, the more childlike the paintings became. this drove the artist of the court so mad, he was declared psychotic, and forced to leave town in search of his sanity.

along his travels, the artist of the court met a sagittarius who claimed to be an artist as well. the artist of the court recounted his tragic tale, at which the sagittarius laughed. he asked to see the artist of the court’s paintings. the sagittarius fell to his knees. never before had he seen such original paintings, and with such liveliness of expression. they looked like the drawings of a child, but with greater depth and beautiful light.

the sagittarius told the artist of the court how lucky he should feel. he said that every man has a child inside of him, and that the cruelties of the world had allowed him to see his own child. it wasn’t he that was insane but the world itself. the sagittarius told the artist of the court to embrace the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child, and that if he was to ever find himself in times of tragedy, his inner-child would always help him through.

the artist of the court rushed back to his kingdom, where he reclaimed his bantu name and painted happily ever after.


perplexed by the story, the stoic man dropped the key in the toilet, and flushed without thinking. from that day on, he lived an even lonelier life.


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