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

Apologies

The past can throw up shreds of life that were never lived.

Life may not always turn out as we imagine it would. But when reality changes, is it possible to give up what could have been? To set someone free, to unshackle them from the burdens of shared dreams?

I am not sure what the reply to this postcard might have been? But I do imagine that it was a practical acceptance of fate. The more interesting part for me is exploring if happiness found its way to the shredded soul. If the winds of fortune changed sails… however late?

To reflect the theme of delay of my first Postcard Poem, this post is intentionally late.


Dearest,

Apologies
For being late.
Posting this from the
Hospital bed.
Do not worry, just shrapnel
From a stray grenade,
That missed me… Took
The man next to me instead.

Not sure if I can call it
A lucky twist of fate, though…
For it seems I’ll have no use for my legs
Henceforth, that’s what the doctor said.

And since he told me the news,
Hard as it was to palate,
I have tried innumerable times
To picture a life for us without feeling the weight,
And so, unbearable as it is,
I have decided,
Not to burden you with a love,
That must one day evaporate.

I do not doubt your unwavering devotion,
But I cannot allow my altered state,
To define your life. And I take solace in
Believing that this is what the Gods have decided.

Yours. For the last time.

Jyotsna Atre
April 01, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge