Feed it to the fire

Photo Courtesy: https://unsplash.com/@hip_dinosaur

It was so long ago, but she remembered it still. A pile of wood stacked sky high in front of the house, waiting to go up in flames. She watched as women in silken fineries circled it, worshipped it, offered specially made sweets to please the Gods in an act of penance, an easy way to scorch the demons that consumed the soul.

And always, from her charpai in a corner of the aangan, Dadi would summon her… ‘Feed the fire!’ She would say in a voice filled with urgency.

‘Did Dadi see herself in me? Was she trying to save me from a future that spoke of the past? Had she seen my downfall?’ The woman wondered.

Feed it to the fire

She walked towards the fire
That was now leaping towards the sky,
Flicking a thousand orange tongues
To satiate its burning appetite.

“What will you feed it?”

She could hear her grandmother ask.
And just like that, she was six again,
Chanting the words over and over,
Until they finally were branded on her brain.

“Greed… and jealousy…
Anger… and hatred…
Selfishness… and…”

“And…”

Even today, she didn’t want to say the word,
Although she remembered it rather well.

“Something that means I shouldn’t think
I am smarter or prettier or better than anyone else.”

“Is there a word for it, little one?”

“… but I am Gramma!”

“You are what, little one?”

“Smarter, prettier and better.”

“Such a tiny being and such ego.”
The old voice quivered.
“Feed it to the fire, little one. Or
You’ll be your worst enemy. Feed it to the fire…”

She stood there,
Intently watching the flames,
That had the power to destroy,
That had the power to cleanse.

Tomorrow,
Her ego intact,
She would start afresh.

Jyotsna Atre
April 07, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

7 thoughts on “Feed it to the fire

  1. That sense of lore is amazing in your poem. Love the image it creates, the fire “Flicking a thousand orange tongues”. Yes, if only we fed i to the fire, religiously!

    Liked by 1 person

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