Diwali Lamp

Trial by Fire

They watched as she walked into the fire, waiting for it to consume her. But by then, she had become the fire that would bring down an empire.

A woman who is snatched from everything she knows, made into a pawn for games of war and then abandoned by the love of her life and her own people – Sita’s story is poignant and terrifyingly believable. Every Deepawali, when I see lamps being lit, I find her in the flames – a reminder that the only way to conquer an indestructible fire, is to become it. She is an everywoman, who finds the extraordinary at the extreme moment – like we all need to.


I have an ordinary life. It is bound within the perimeters of people I know - my family, my friends, my colleagues and clients. There is safety within this circle, and happiness – of a deep, still kind. The confines of my world are small, but they are richly detailed and abundantly interesting to me. It is satisfactory, this modest, wholesome environment, ruled by good sense and dignity.


But sometimes, I wonder how it would feel to break free - to reveal all that is absurd and undignified in me, all my powers of captivation, all the spirit and wildness that I guard from everyday living. To be like fire, not caring for the cold wind, but blazing with all might and passion, in the face of those who dare to look into the flames, or in fascination choose to bask in its warmth!


I am like water, I flow where the ground takes me, and when stones stop my path I move and flow around them. Wind storm and defiance I do not know. But the beauty of power and destruction and dissipation fascinate me - as if a pagan era still lives in my brain. I am in the flow, I will live the life of the river and be content. But sometimes, I should like to think of that somebody who lived like fire.


It is the way of the world that a fire burns and dies, reduced to little flames and sparks among the wood, spent, exhausted while the river runs on, widening, deepening, slowing. The river laughs to itself a smug little laugh as it meets the sea, because it left behind all the filth on its banks, and remained as flowing crystal. But the fire laughs too, in abandon, for no filth, no smoke, no shadow can darken its moment of flame. And its gleam it sends up in the embers which fly, to catch one if you can.


~ Vatsala


P.S.: Happy Diwali!

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