Flames

Are you listening?

For the candle burns,

Sizzling every now and then

With a sacrifice

To awaken your light.

It’s flame,

Seldom steady,

Stubbornly persists

Across wind and rain,

Lest you be left alone

In that which you know not.


Do you hear?

The shadows cast,

Move,

In conversation with your own.

A code of prancing light and dark.

A speech without words,

Of that

Which cannot be contained in them.


Hold not fear

In these shadows.

For a shadow is but

The Master of Distortion

In the guise of a

Conscientious mimic.


And what’s fear,

But your intrusive entrance

In a play staged for your benefit?


Pray, hark!

Pay heed,

The flame breathes its

Last few fiery truths.

Untruths burnt,

In trailing black soot

Leave remnants of the dark.

Now forever etched

Above your head.


A memory.

Far removed.

Unattached, yet present.

Lest in a moment

Of cyclical weakness,

You succumb to that

Which is devoid of all feeling.


Are you listening?

A flame stands tallest, moments before it dies.


Now!

Light but only

It's trailing wisps,

And what ignites,

Will be your eternal flame.

This is from the archives - both the image and the prose.


There was once a time people ate candle wax - back in the days candles were often made with beef fat/beeswax, so when famines struck, it wasn't unusual for the poor to steal and devour candles! Also, candle flames are not always straight but rendered such due to gravity - in fact they are spherical in outer space! Why the sudden candle facts, you ask?


Well it's because, candle is the only element of household fire we're taught not to fear, but welcome.


You see, we stayed in a really small town growing up. Electricity outages were frequent, and as back-ups weren't readily available back then, my sister and I would race to light the candles our mother would have judiciously placed throughout the house. At the time cell phones weren't a thing, so for entertainment, all four of us would sit in our backyard, with a lit candle on our lawn table, and just talk. Dad would tell us stories, mostly about ghosts he and grandpa encountered on their innumerable walks along the winding roads of Garhwal, some about those that plagued his hostel, some of his elder sister being petrified by a woman in red at the kitchen window and then more!

We would stare at the shadows dancing on the walls, look at our dad's half lit face, and even though we'd hear those tales for the nth time, we'd still feel a sense of awe. Sometimes, we'd make some up stories on our own, others, we'd make ominous shadow creatures to spook one another out. It was stolen time, and it lasted as long as the borrowed flame did.

As soon as electricity was restored, it was as if the light blinded us into an accepted version of truth. The spell was broken and between school work, TV, and dinner, we'd all go back to our own realities.


It was then, between all those moments of listening to candles amid whispering shadows, that life as I'd like to know it, existed.


I just miss candles I guess. :)

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