20 April, 2008

Humpty Dumpty

humpty dumpty
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the King's horses and all the King's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again."

The Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme is a mystery to me. The way that I see it, Humpty Dumpty must have been royalty of sort. I suspect he was the brilliant spoilt youngest son of a very pompous sovereign. The problem with the Humpty Dumpty’s rhyme is that the lesson takes place before he climbs up onto that wall. The moral of the story is not about falling or how useless the kinsmen are. No, the story is about how Humpty Dumpty got up on the wall in the first place.

What sort life did he live that he came up against the wall? Why was the wall there? Was he a dreamer? A gambler? Did he chase after women? Did he run away from stifling sovereignly duties?

I knew a Humpty Dumpty in my childhood. He was an architect, possessed with grand visions about the importance of architecture and his own brilliance. He possessed a fine appreciation for art and nature. He was the first person I met, who felt there was absolutely no separation between the two. Art was nature. Nature art.

His family and mine were befriended from the time of my birth. Life was fascinating when he was around. For example, he’d take us children out digging for Arawak and Carib Indian artifacts. We’d be out under the hot afternoon sun, getting mud under our nails, fire ant bites on our legs, all the while trying to pry the pottery shards from the grips of the earth. He would transport us back hundred of years to the time when the Arawak and Carib Indians populated the island.

Then he’d reprimand us severely, if we whined about heat or thirst or hunger. We were explorers, archaeologists, and not sissies. He could get very angry about things we couldn’t comprehend.

In the evening, having changed into more formal attire, he’d charm a room full of dinner guests. He’d talk art, history, and politics. It didn’t matter what the topic of interest was, he knew everything there was to know. Or, at least so it seemed to me as a child and young adult.

Eventually, I began to see the wall on the horizon of his life. His furious intelligence turned to fury. His magnificent visions became hallucination. He started to climb his wall built with bricks of egotism, self-centeredness, megalomania, dementia, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer. Tragically, all the King’s horses and all the king’s men, we couldn’t put him back together again.

1 comment:

  1. Lia, I am SO freaking out that you wrote this, because my dad's burning question during the last few weeks of his life was "Why was Humpty Dumpty an egg?" I know he was dreaming about the "brokenness" of his body during those days. We had to look up the origin of the nursery rhyme, and he asked every visitor their opinion. It is so weird that you should bring it up today, which has been one of my tougher days, emotionally, since his death.