Fire burns the old!

Fog embraces the Indian capital Delhi each winter night. Post sunset – moisture, smog and pollution settle down near the ground like a thick blanket .This is due to the inversion of temperature as the ground stays warmer than the cold sky above. Once again at daybreak the temperature gets warmer and all signs of fog are erased and the sky is once again bright blue. The dark thoughts of the night replaced with a buzz of activity of work and play and movement.

Yesterday the family got together in the evening and we lit a small fire in the garden. The monsoon had departed weeks ago and the temperature in north India had dropped drastically by nightfall. The fire was lit to bring a feeling of cheer and warmth to the family. The family gathered together, guests and friends dropped in, it was the festival of Diwali the season of lights. Tiny oil lamps were lit and placed all around the garden. Delicious traditional sweets and dry fruits – almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts and raisins in silver bowls were passed around.

There was chatter and talk and now and then the flow of conversation halted. Every one stared into the fire. Little golden specks shot straight up and then exhausted, drained of all sustenance died a natural death. An odd spray of golden specks flared up into the sky and got extinguished in seconds. A crackle and a hiss and then silence ! The play of flames continued occasionally replenished by more fuel. The fire gave life to our little garden in suburban Delhi. Fire released the pent up energy of wood and charcoal consuming the matter that had been preserved for years.

We avoid eye contact, knowing that it would only bring forth a spray of words, bringing to the surface irritation that had developed with over familiarity over the years ! Our children were around, happy to see the family together, enveloped in the evening fog. They too sensed that a spark lit between us would surface above the flames – but they knew that it would die a quick death. They had seen it so often, and had got used to it. They didn’t not want to give it energy and made jokes and teased each other to lighten up the atmosphere.

Feelings and old resentments compressed each day pounded by commitment to the family had created dead wood within me. Layers and layers of little thoughts and actions that I had chosen to ignore or not give energy to had created fossil wood in my soul. There were times when I longed to light the fire and let the dead wood blaze. Let yesterday go quickly and extinguish itself . Let my hurt feelings that had become charcoal in my soul crackle and evaporate as smoke.

I stared into the fire in front of me watching the sparks dance and die and realized that if I let my tirade out all too soon I too would extinguish myself. In seconds I too would end up in ash and smoke with no substance left. The spark of my soul existed nourished on my experiences. I knew the sun would soon appear and lighten up the morning sky. I would soon be busy with the bustle of activity and the dark foggy thoughts I had would fade away with the demons of the night !

Posted in Short Stories