Ever so often we find ourselves looking for people, places, memories and opportunities that make our hearts ache. But in a good way.
Some find happiness in running after that feeling, chasing it in bars and discos. Jumping off cliffs only to have a trace of its grandeur. Intoxicated by its scent in foreign skies and seas.
Some find solace in the hope that it will come to them. That all they must do, is believe in its power, its possibility, and trust it with all their heart, and the wait will be worth it.
That feeling is what makes the World go round.
Earth, our home, found it in its path around the Sun. Sun, our star, found it in its luminosity and illumination. Water, our sustenance, found it wrapped in the bonds between hydrogen and oxygen. Wind, our cosmos, found it in the chirp of every bird that beautifies it. Fire, our energy, found it in the oxygen that strengthens it.
Sometimes, it comes in our early years. Others spend ages feeling incomplete. Sometimes, it comes right when you need it. Others learn that it has the worst timing ever. Sometimes, it comes when you’re ready to hold on. Others are caught completely off guard.
I made a wish for that feeling, then placed it in my soul.
I promise to welcome its immensity and its enormity the next time we bump paths.
A bonfire, a friendship and a paradox. Three unrelated entities that came together. This is a story of how.
Completely different yet somehow bizarrely functional, such was our connection.
This is how I met The Boy Who Loves Bonfires.
Click.Tap.Click.Tap.Click.Tap. I had come up with a rhythm to which I bobbed my head, sitting impatiently. It was yet another day in a class I wasn’t very fond of. Don’t get me wrong, I was great at the subject.The class, however,was a borefest.
There is always that one class where no one pays attention. Everyone is either dozing off or daydreaming. The latter is more my thing.
The seat next to me was unoccupied…until, it just wasn’t. My daydream came crashing down when I heard the sound of metal screeching as the seat next to me was pulled backward.
Within seconds, a complete stranger who I had occasionally seen in the hallways, sat next to me.
That is probably the most boring and cliched starting to what became one the most beautiful friendships of my life.
While I admit that the beginning was awkward and rocky, a few months later we were inseparable.
“The Boy Who Loves Bonfires,” such was his epithet.
Bonfires? I mean what’s so out of the blue about bonfires?
Fire. An element of life, a symbol of damnation, a source of energy, the hallmark for death. A purifier and a destroyer.
In the last sacrament of life in many cultures, corpses are burnt. Day after day, countless people die, yet the living wish to live forever.
The bodies of the dead are burned as they depart on a journey to whatever lies in the afterlife. Smoke stacks choke the skies.
The holy element of fire is hence linked to the end of a loved one’s journey amongst the living.
Fire, then becomes eerie and sinister to many people.
While my friend envisaged a starry night, sitting across a bonfire, with blankets and marshmallows.
The heat from the fire soothing the frigid air and the shivering toes. Consuming, devouring, annihilating the wood in order to stay alive.
Orange flames cackling while they dance, throwing vivid shadows and shapes under the dark of the night.
Its reflections in the eyes of the people gathered around, whispering secrets as its warmth caresses each soul.
Burning with the valiant desire to breathe. It reminded him of the beauty of being alive, each day.
“We can complain that rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice that thorns have roses,” while I had heard this many times, The Boy Who Loves Bonfires brought it to life and made me live it.
The Boy Who Loves Bonfires taught me a way of life.
I like to think of fire as the calm before a storm. Sometimes, the storm strikes and there is death, devastation, and loss to deal with. Sometimes, the storm passes over. It doesn’t strike. On those days, there is relief, warmth, calm and joy that the fire itself spreads.
I wonder sometimes, does fire know of its power? To create and destroy. Or does it remain an oblivious paradoxical element.
A paradox contradicts itself. It has various faces to it. The one we choose to focus on arbitrates much of our lives.
This I learned from him.
Who would have thought that a friendship that began in the dullest possible way would spark a fire. Dazzling and alive.
This is my tale of a rendezvous with the enigma that is called – Snow!
“The first snowfall of every winter is magical,” I remember hearing this in a TV show once.
I am no stranger to winters, but in my part of the World, it does not snow all that often. So it has always been a bit of a mystery to me.
I have been told that as a child, I have witnessed quite a few snow days.
Sadly, I have no recollection of these days.
A few years ago, I completed another item on my bucket list, on a trip to Ladakh, India.
As we drove down the narrow roads, there was a zeal and zing brimming inside each of us.
There was a singular prayer on all our lips. One word. Snow.
The windows were down, I felt the cold breeze against my face, as I stared at the path ahead, from the backseat of the car.
In the distance, I saw the road -glittering and white. I was entranced, encaptured, enchanted.
A few seconds later, I saw a single snowflake dancing, floating, swirling in the air before hitting the concrete.
In the blink of an eye, there were hundreds of these tiny miracles dancing, floating, swirling, and finally landing. I felt a few on my face before they melted, becoming tiny droplets of water.
We took an exit off the highway that led to an empty road.The concrete was not so bare now. There were white specks all over.
I stepped out, tilted my head upwards as I witnessed each tiny miracle completing its journey.
It was freezing cold, I was told. I felt none of it.
It was as if I had disconnected from everything around me. I was in a bubble with only these snowflakes for company.
It was as if I was conversing with every tiny miracle I saw.
I was completely and utterly bewitched by their charm, devoted.
The street off the highway was now filled with families and tourists who had stopped to witness those mesmeric moments of snow.
I heard children shrieking with joy in the distance. I heard people walking through the snow, not too silently.
Pure, innocent wonder.
Up close, each tiny snowflake appears different. Each began its journey as a droplet in the ocean, travels miles and miles away from home.
Suspended, in the freezing cold, trapped inside a cloud. How painful must it be.
Each drop is now shaped differently, pressing against each other, fighting for room.
Then the cloud gets heavy, it bursts.
There is room to breathe now. Room for each tiny miracle, that set off on this journey.
It dances one last time in a lightly blowing breeze, in hopes of reuniting with the homes they left behind.
That day, a few snowflakes returned to the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes they left behind. Others got consumed by the soil, where these tiny miracles nourished life. While some,simply fell on concrete, cars and roofs to bring euphoria and elation to the cluster of tourists and families by that road.
I witnessed true beauty in each snowflake. Selfless. Altruistic.
My first snowfall. Or at least the first I remember, was what I was told it would be. Magical.