lamps in the river
earthen lamps....when edison hadn’t invent bulb, they were used to burn nights. i remember granny telling me to be careful with them. it was fascinating for me to see the light flickering under the stars but granny would be concerned for my well-being. it wasn’t that i was a pyromaniac; i loved to observe the cotton wick absorb the oil and the flame dancing with every song of wind. we celebrated festival of lights with great enthusiasm. earthen lamps lined boundaries of our house and so did our neighbours’, it felt as if the stars have come down on earth. granny would wrap me in her arms when people would start bursting crackers and i would be shivering in a corner.
the festival had passed that year. granny was still in her bed. all of my aunts and uncle were together. granny called my mum and gave her some money that she was hiding under her pillow and whispered something. mum asked me if i wanted to go with her as i hadn’t left the house since months. i agreed. it was a cold november evening. the air was slapping against our bodies. i was walking, holding my mum’s hand. at moments she would squeeze it gently to direct me in the direction to turn. we went to potter’s house. the earthen lamps were being kept under sunlight to dry. granny had asked mum to pay the potter for the lamps we had bought for the festival. we didn’t have change neither did the potter, so he gave us a lamp instead. when we reached home, i went to temple and lighted the lamp. it gave some warmth to the cold weather.
as i was about to go my granny’s room, uncle stopped me and asked to come with him. i agreed, although i wanted to stay at home. he went to doctor. i was supposed to stay out in the doctor’s garden where i found a sacred fig tree. i remembered granny and i would light an earthen lamp underneath such tree every saturday. too bad, i had already lightened the only lamp i had in the temple at home. uncle told me it wasn’t saturday, so i didn’t need to do it.
we went home to find everyone in granny’s room. she had been staying in bed for a month then but it had only been a day when she stopped talking, even with me. my aunts and uncle were standing around her bed. i was allowed to go near her in days. aunt slowly grabbed my hand and poured some holy water in granny’s mouth. i didn’t realise what was going on. i went to the temple where the wick had absorbed most of fuel, so i grabbed the bottle of oil and poured into it. Although i spilled some on the floor but the flame got alive again. i started to pray. nobody left granny’s room that night. i think nobody slept as well. every time granny would utter or try to utter a word, i would get up, so my mother sent me to the my room but i secretly walked to temple. the lamp was still burning.
i stayed there, trying to pray.....chant whatever my stupid brain had learned from granny but by the time sun rose, i was asleep. mum was sitting by my side, gently caressing my hair. i got up to see the lamp. the wick had drowned, hence the flame died. granny would be angry at me for sleeping while praying, so i ran to her room to ask for forgiveness but my uncle stopped me on my way and said, “it’s saturday! go get your lamp.”
and then i never saw granny......