Fireflies dancing on the hillside : The Tribune India

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Fireflies dancing on the hillside

Fireflies dancing on the hillside

Rachna Singh

Rachna Singh

The evening was dark and gloomy. Black clouds threatened rain and thunder. Strong winds had begun to churn up the air. The heavens opened up and rain pelted down on the parched earth. As was to be expected, the lights flickered and went out in anticipation of the thunderstorm that was clearly imminent. Without the creature comforts offered by the ubiquitous fans and air-conditioners, the oppressive heat was suffocating. I decided to step out, despite thunderous rumbling and lightning that cut a sharp swathe across the sodden sky. I gingerly opened the door leading to my terrace garden. The strong winds snatched the door out of my hands and slammed it with great force. But the cold wind and the refreshing shower of raindrops on my face made me brave the vagaries of the storm.

The tandava of nature did not last long. The rain stopped as suddenly as it had started. The drenched landscape heaved a sigh of relief and settled down to a night of equanimity. I sat in my chair drinking in the peace and serenity of the night. I looked at the silhouette of the Kasauli hills, slumbering and silent. My gaze caught a flickering light in the distance. As I looked on in surprise, the hillside seemed to glow with dancing lights. My surprise turned to amazement as the entire hillside glowed with warm lights that flickered and beckoned with their golden warmth. They were obviously not the fires of hearth and home that beckoned a tired wayfarer. My brain told me with bruising clarity that they were the lights of urban dwellings. And yet my poetic imagination rejected the promptings of my brain and believed reverently that these were fireflies.

I remember how as children, we would eagerly wait for the rain to stop and the fireflies to emerge. We would often cup them in our hands or place them in transparent glass jars, where they glowed with a greenish-yellow hue. Life then was simple and uncomplicated. The joy of standing in the open with outstretched hands waiting for the touch of the first raindrop, the joy of waiting for the fireflies to emerge and shine after a monsoon shower, the sense of childish exhilaration when the rain stopped and the rainbow arched across the sky, were little joys that made our life happy and serene. Such joys are lost to the urbanised generation of today that has probably never seen a firefly. With so much pollution, rainbows have also become a rarity. We took these sights and sounds for granted, not realising they would soon become a part of our ‘Once upon a time’ bedtime tales. The firefly is perhaps a metaphor for the destruction of nature at the hands of man. As I watch the flickering lights on the hillside, I am reminded of Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poem Jugnoo: ‘Andheri raat mein deepak jalaye kaun baitha hai?’

My heartfelt eulogy to the fireflies — the lost sentinels of light.

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