In the mansions of the earth, in the yellow springs, dead people arrive daily: well dressed, newly billionaires, their banknotes crisp but smelling burnt.
The Tan Sri wondered about this often, while he was still alive but getting older.
He thought to himself – “Hm,” he thought. “Over there everybody is rich. How will I act on my advantage? Dead people think of the leisure life; they are served joss houses and credit cards. How is the joss money spent? Who owns the shops and the services, who makes the merchandise?”
And so the Tan Sri left instructions. He spoke to paper merchants, commissioning cranes made of sticks; there were cement mixers, diggers, excavators with glass-paper cabs; paper workers line by line like an army. There were deeds drawn up: land titles and bills of sale.
When he passed away his sons put these papers to the fire.
And when the Tan Sri awoke in his afterworld he was rich already – not only rich with cash; he owned vast swathes of property, across several levels in prime locations, with the proper documents as proof.
Within three months of the Tan Sri’s arrival Capital UCB opened its first branch in the mansions of the earth. By the yellow springs groundwork for Cityville Phase Six was laid, a luxurious mixed development: condominiums, commercial arcades, nail bars and coffee shops.
The nurse pops her head out, calls his name. Inside the room is freezing. The doctor wears a blazer and a kopiah. “Hello,” the doctor says. “So what’s wrong with you?”
“I’ve got this thing,” Shah says.
He hesitates. Finally he pulls off his sweater cap. The doctor cranes to look, and adjusts his spectacles: the patch of cloth on Shah’s head has grown. It is now six centimetres across – six centimetres in three days. “Hm,” the doctor says, poking and pressing.
Shah says: “Ow!”
“It’s quite swollen around the edges,” the doctor replies. “Infected already. I’ll give you an antiseptic cream.”
“Doctor, why – ” Shah asks.
And the doctor says: “Don’t worry about it. You are in your late twenties – twenty-nine? Ya, one third of guys your age get it, and for most people it comes sooner or later. It’s harmless.”
“I don’t want it.”
The doctor rolls his eyes. “Look,” he says. “I know, it’s making you feel insecure. But do you want surgery? Because you need surgery to get rid of it. My advice is: leave it. Sometimes it falls off on its own.”
Shah has to stop himself from scratching. The doctor points at his own face, taps the kopiah on his head, and says: “Anyway, is it really so terrible a look?”