Sunday, August 12, 2007

Darkness and the fire.

I fondly member those romanticisms when I was in class 3 or 4 when I used to deliberately get up at times before the crack of dawn to paint the rising sun and to take a walk in the small colony of Sector-2 of Rourkela ( Orissa ) . The small city of intense intellectual activity which formed the roots of my hopes , imaginations and thinkings and aspirations in life. The roads of the city where I first fell in love. It used to be densely foggy during the winter and nothing beyond a few meters would be visible and my height made things more romantic since I couldnt see more than a few meters infront of me.

There was a certain sense of thrill in the act of walking through the fog not knowing what lay ahead and the unpredictability made things more interesting. I used to revel at the joy of being able to walk through the fog confidently despite the handicap of sight.

Many of my friends in that age used to play the popular game of hide and seek or the game in which a guy or a girl would have his/her eyes blindfolded and he/she would have to touch some pre-assigned person.

I never found those games interesting but I did find something similar interesting . At evening when at times both my parents would come home late , I used to shut off all the lights in the flat and would try to go about doing my usual work in total darkness. It gave me immense joy when I slowly realized that unlike many of my other friends etc I was pretty much proficient in my activities in the dark as under normal lighting conditions. I used to do this when I used to visit my late grandfater's house in West Bengal. Ofcourse such activities got more risky as well as thrilling since my late grandfather's house is 2 storeyed.

In those young ages it seemed to be a real challenge to me be able to go about navigating through that pretty large house up and down the stairs without any need of light. I had developed a pretty nice sense of direction and sense of objects in the darkness. But there were times when I failed and on one such occassion I cut my chin when I missed a step and there were near misses of fatal accidents. But then the joy was overwhelming enough to make me try again.

Ofcourse as I grew up I could do these navigational activities in the dark at a much faster speed. I can now a days run up and down the stairs in a house at pretty much the normal speed even in total darkness.

Expectedly , my mother always gets scared to see me do these things , more because I at times do them deliberately by shutting off the lights of the rooms. It gives me great pleasure to be able to navigate in a place without the aid of light.

Given 21 years of experience my mother has gotten used to my eccentricities and she has probably gotten used to being always afraid that my desperate behaviours can invite any kind of trouble in my life.

Other than these navigational games in the darkness another thing that really attacted me was fire. I had great joy in observing various things burn in fire. How the wax softens , melts and then becomes glassy and then smokes. How a leaf gives off a hissing sound at times before burning and how various types of plastics crumple and twist in myriad ways before burning.

But what really fascinated me was to time for how long I could hold my index finger in the tip of the candle flame. Initially it was very low , but as I grew up the time increased by quite a lot. As I grew up this activity of mine became symbolic of various different things at various different stages of my life. During the high school , I used to test my patience and endurance ability and my determination by timing for how long I could hold my finger in the flame. When in deep sorrow I used to do it to feel convinced that I still have the strength to rise and fight back.

It goes without saying that my mother feels scared and frightened to see me do this. I still do it whenever a candle is lit at home , be it for the pujas that my mother or grandmother does.

But then this game of mine with the candle flame initially started off with very different emotions and feelings. I have heard from my friends of both the sexes , especially from some of my female friends , that there is a threshold age after which they have felt the emotion of being "passionately in love". But somehow I think I have felt this emotion of passionate love at a far far younger age than everyone else. I had felt within me the sense of passionate romance and love for a lady of my age ever since I have definitive memories. I was responsive to the emotions of love , romance and passion even when I was very young. Since then I had imagined myself to be deeply , passionately and devotedly in love with a lady. It was then that I started feeling attracted to the candle flame. To test my love.

When I was in classes 2 to 4 , the ability to hold my finger in the candle flame seemed to symbolize to me my ability of how much pain and sufferring I can endure for the sake of my love. I used to feel a deep sense of joy , that my love could be strong enough to hold me through any perils and that I could have the tenacity to fight any pain for the sake of my lady.

I really dont know from when and exactly what or is it the totality of my life over the last 5-6 years that my faith and belief in all these emotions has been waning. Its decaying fast and perhaps very soon the person that I was during the age of 10 would start looking like someone else.

Now the unpredictability of the darkness scares me. I no more feel convident that I can navigate through it and I am scared to fall again. I feel frightened to be burnt by the fire whereas in younger days fire was a plaything for me. But still darkness looks a little more mangeable thing than fire.

I have lost some of my own essential things in life. I know not when . I know not how. I knwo not to whom. Is it the continual crash over the last 6 years , of all my beliefs which I tied to my ability of holding the finger in the candle flame ?

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