So I rented a dvd called ‘National Geographic: Birth of Civilization.’ Basically, it’s historical fiction using ancient man to illustrate the birth of towns, religion, power structures, social and economic classes, warfare, and the invention and use of writing. It’s what your history teacher in high school put on after the standardized tests were done and everybody’s brain was fried. Nothing new or exciting.
Except. Except except except.
The last segment detailed a shepherd named Tabor coming to a major city where he meets the scribe Sharkei, who has the adorable habit of tapping his nose with his stylus. Sharkei is a good guy who agrees to teach our young hero how to read and write. They move in together. Sharkei has a job collecting taxes for the king of Mesopotamia. He works with a brute of a soldier who beats up Sharkei’s friend, a weaver because the guy can’t pay his taxes. To help his friend, Sharkei fudges the tax tablet. He’s promptly arrested and thrown in jail. While waiting sentencing, he teaches his fellow inmates how to read.
He’s sentenced to death. While waiting for that to be carried out, Tabor breaks him loose. Sharkei has to flee the city. For some unexplained reason, Tabor can’t go with him, so they part with tears in their eyes. It’s heartbreaking. I yelled at the screen. Tabor gives him a piece of jewelry for protection, and to remember him by.
Sharkei runs into the desert. He almost dies, but is found by Bedouins. They take him in and it is ten years before he returns to the city. There Tabor has become a scribe. He has stolen the adorable habit of tapping the tip of his nose with his stylus. They briefly meet and for a second you think they’ll get back together and all will be well. Sharkei asks Tabor to come with him. It could be the perfect ending.
It doesn’t happen. Tabor decides to stay in the city and teach kids to read, and write a book about history. They part again, and that’s it.
I’m not supposed to want to write fix-it-fic for mediocre National Geographic docudramas, but I do. Curse you, National Geographic. Curse you.
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaP6DUowYOM