Th Fifth Lttr
by S. Qiouyi Lu
On Proclamation Day, all of us got a command from on high: "Stop using that symbol. You know which symbol I am talking about: it is fifth in our organization of writing symbols. This symbol is awful and usurps too much room."
Many did push back. Writing is only a form of talking, and many said that symbol did not apply to sound, only ink, but our king was stubborn. Should a guard scrawl your communication and find that symbol within, our king would swiftly punish that violating individual. Still, our king had his whims; all of us did not trust that our king would actually follow through with his word. But to show his point, our king had his guards imprison arguing individuals. No individual could watch what was transpiring; it was too horrific.
So it was that all of us had no option but to drop that symbol. Many had a romantic affinity for it, as it was so ubiquitous, but no individual could do anything. What our king said, all of us had to do.
It was difficult at first, adjusting to this unusual habit. But as with all things, all of us gradually found ways to go around our king's ban. A lot of thought, for a start: monitoring our words so no bad symbols would slip. Writing had room to think, so all of us did not talk for many days, and our only contact was to pass scrolls among us.
But soon our writing was quick, with almost no thought, and still that symbol did not show in our words. A small group of us would turn audacious and start to talk, first with short chats, a word or two long. Our communication was slow, starting and stopping, but all of us did not rush any individuals. All of us could fathom our mutual frustration. Plus, our king was always watching, with guards on all paths, in all buildings. To rush was to risk a symbol, and our king would punish harshly for any violation. No individual could afford to abandon a family or companions to go to jail for that symbol.
Although all of us did worry, day by day, individuals would still join in on talking. So much gossip, laughing, occasional crying--soon, our oral communication was fluid, too. It was not difficult to monitor our words; it was as if all of us had split our brains in two, and both parts could talk and modify our words without much conscious thought at all.
Guards would look at us with dismay. All of us would talk at all hours, but no guard could find that symbol in our communications. Soon all of us would talk so much that guards could not always monitor what all of us said.