A Nation without Legs

No, I didn’t mean the title to be a metaphor, though it obviously is. Those words came up — just like that — when I was walking to a nearby supermarket in our housing complex this evening.

The supermarket is only about 1 kilometer away from the house. The street (road?) between them is quite busy. But I saw no one walking. Everyone was either on a car or a motorbike.

Everyone has lost their legs! And just like that, I began to see people without legs. Everyone’s on wheels, motorised wheels.

It’s fun when your mind suddenly comes up with its own creative ideas; when it tells your senses to perceive things differently. It’s always a wonderful moment, and it was wonderful indeed to forget that the people I saw had legs. Now, by the grace of the mind’s imagination, what appeared before me was people without legs — just heads, bodies, and arms moving on wheels that have taken the place of the legs.

Can you imagine what they look like?

Unfortunately, of course, moments like that don’t usually last long (except in people who are considered insane). The conscious won’t let that happen. They will always try to take over what it considers to be ‘unrealistic’ depiction of the world, the experience.

So, on the way back (from the supermarket), that part of the mind began to lecture me about what actually was happening.

In the city where I live — just like many if not most cities (big or small) in our country — more and more people can afford and own their own wheels. It is said that, as of today, on average 22,000 new motorbikes are sold everyday (the number is small compared to the total population of the country which currently stands at about 250 million, but significantly big if compared to the number of babies born everyday, which according to an official source was about 10,000 per day as of 2011). The streets are getting more crowded and unruly. And with no functioning mass transportation systems anywhere, demands for private wheels will only increase and, with it, the streets will only become a nastier place. This is particularly true in big cities where road length have not increased much in comparison to the increase in the number of vehicles.

But if crowded streets and unruly traffic were not enough to trigger a polluted and suffocating imagination, there is at least one other thing that I think will: people losing their legs. It’s really worrying to see that people are forgetting that they have legs. And that they don’t walk anymore. Not even for short distances.

Are we becoming a nation without legs? Or have we become one? If we are, or have, who could have taken our legs off? What would the consequences be in the long run?

I suppose the answer to these questions will be a long one, too long for a kilometer of walk to ponder about. I was home, and it was time to do other things.


Satu pemikiran pada “A Nation without Legs

  1. This is exactly what I’ve been thinking lately! Warga kota sekarang bukan lagi manusia, tapi motor (dan mobil). No wonder pengadaan trotoar gak maksimal, lah pejalan kakinya saja sudah “kehilangan kaki.” I’ve been wondering, when will it end?

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