The ivory tower once hold the answers for all questions. Was the world ready for them?
The Final Challenge
In the next morning, Kamal felt homesick. He thought of his beloved father, who had died from a devastating cancer; and of his youngest brother, who had succumbed to malaria during a business trip to Amzan. With the slow steps of an old man, Kamal walked to the window facing his village, Roch.
It was time to tackle his final challenge: death.
In the next years, Kamal worked on ways to cure the main diseases afflicting people everywhere in the land. He started with malaria, which was surprisingly easy to deal with. He developed genetically modified malaria-free mosquitos to replace the original vector population and an efficient recombinant vaccine. Cancer was much challenging. But Kamal ingeniously engineered a virus able to detect proteins over-expressed in tumors. Inertly spread in the body, these viruses were activated only when such detection was positive. Then, they would kill the cell by disrupting its metabolic cycle.
Kamal developed drugs to regenerate circulatory system in arteriosclerosis, self-adapting vaccines against flu, genetic therapies to eliminate insulin cellular resistance in diabetes, therapeutic viruses to clean up the brain from the excess of beta-amyloid peptides in Alzheimer.
But Kamal knew that even if he was given a new lifetime, he wouldn’t be able to find the cure for every possible illness. Then, he drew plans for sustainable and independent funding of medical research, which at his time was in the hands of Oir’yn corporations, with little incentive to develop procedures and drugs beyond market interests.
This time, Kamal wasn’t fully satisfied, but he conceded that this was the best he could do.
The Collapse of the Ivory Tower
Kamal had finally completed his self-imposed mission. Decades before he had set to himself the goal of solving all problems of nature, society, and men. He finally did it to the best of his efforts. It cost him a lifetime of solitude. He never took a wife or had children. But he thought it was entirely worth it. Now it was time to leave the ivory tower and make his achievements public.
He climbed to the terrace to ask for help. He needed masons to come and break the tower’s entrance seal.
He stood at the side facing Roch, his village, and waved. His brothers and sisters, who still kept a grudge against him for having wasted the family’s wealth, decided to ignore his calls.
Then, he faced the holy city of Vacan and waved. The priests saw him from the golden cathedral, but decided to ignore him too. They knew he was an atheist with heretic ideas about man and his immortal, holy soul. They scolded him and convinced the pilgrims that he was an iconoclast sent by the devil to destroy their faith. Vacan didn’t answer his calls.
Kamal went to the wall facing the great city of Oir’yn and waved. The beautiful people of the city saw him from their glass towers, but also decided to ignore his calls. They knew of Kamal’s pretension of reforming the city and were not happy with that. They ridiculed him and convinced the poor people of the city that he was a traitor sent by enemy nations to destroy their homeland. Oir’yn didn’t answer his calls.
He went to the side facing the conjoined cities of J’lem and G’zar and waved. Not surprisingly, the people of the cities were too busy battling and didn’t answer to his calls either.
Desperate, Kamal went to the side facing the forest of Amzan and waved. The people-of-the-forest saw him too and, as everyone else, ignored him. They were still angry that Kamal had caused the extinction of their elephants to build his tower. Amzan didn’t answer his calls.
What Kamal didn’t know is that for many years the poor people of Oir’yn had been steeling ivory from the tower. Its base, originally solid, was then nearly hollow, as if it were made out of termite-infested wood. Its structural integrity was compromised. The tower turned so fragile that the simple vibrations caused by Kamal’s waving for help were enough to bring it down.
The collapse of the tower came with a loud blare. People from all land stopped startled to see the column of white smoke rising from where the tower used to stand in the central plain. Many joked about the crazy old man, who was now buried under his rubbish. And after a quick while, everyone went back to their errands without a second thought.
No one ever knew the wonders that were once achieved by the man in the ivory tower.