• Divya Budhia

The Distant Light

Amid life scaring thunderstorm, doors of the window made shattering noise every

time they fluttered. A soothing evening breeze gave way to cool winds and light

shower, which accumulated into a heavy pouring and monstrous lighting; and the

storm was getting worse with every passing hour.


Surprisingly, the delicate candle that lit in the room gleamed even more brightly

whenever window panes flew open. The wood of the panes was worn out and the

bolt was broken but it still prevented the candle from being blown out, at least for

the little time that it remained closed. It was for the fourth time that Venu had

started off towards that window to close it tightly so that the only candle he had for

the night does not burn itself out under the impact of harsh winds. With tiny and

tired steps of his old legs, aided by an obsolete stick, it took him about a minute to

move from his chair to the window side. He clung to its side and peeked outside into

midnight darkness. Deadly silence hung over his lonely hut, at the very entrance of

the village. Though there was no one to be seen, yet he felt being watched. He

struggled for a while and managed to pack it once more.


Moving back towards his chair he cursed the untoward weather with the lips which

were slightly arched due to age. Lying back in his weathered chair he resumed his

silent chanting. His lips repeated a perfect pattern as his eyes hovered over window

frame now and again. While reciting holy mantras, the old man thought of his son,

the only one he had in the name of a family. Days ago he had gone to a far off town

to trade spices and should have returned by now. His son had successfully

undertaken many trips before when Venu’s wife was alive. But, he grew impatient

and wary this time because in the absence of his wife, loneliness got better of him. In

his subconscious mind he was aware that the journey was quite long and at the same

time laid with risks of hooligans. Moreover, this awful weather was making him all

the more worrisome. He had decided now that he would not let his son go again.


Throughout his chanting he was sub consciously aware of the candle flame.

Suddenly, it became a little feeble and he was on his toes at once. He pushed himself

out of the chair and started towards a thin yet tall worn-out table on which the

mighty candle was positioned. He made curves with his wrinkled palms and put

them around the blaze. Just then, window panes fluttered open with a loud creek.

He turned his neck and watched the window helplessly. He felt his hands burning

by the fire, which regained the glory and revolted against his gesture. He removed

his palms and stood there in silence for a long time, witnessing the child like play of

the nature.


An hour passed in this way and gradually the candle got diminished in size. He

stood up to search for another piece of wax, which he might have put somewhere

and forgotten. He was halfway down the room when he heard a knock at the door.

His feet froze and heart pounded. He was not frightened but felt an unease to have a

guest at this hour in such weather. “Who could that be?” thought he. “A thug? Nono... Everyone in and around the village know me and my limited means. Who

would come to loot me? Any passerby, who has lost his way? But, in such weather

who would embark on a journey so as to get lost? Or any villager? Surely it was

some terrible news!” As his thoughts raced, so did his heartbeat. Knocking at the

door got harder and his anxious steps moved towards the door hurriedly. He

fumbled while opening the latch and cursed the metal which had got rusted over the

years.


The view gave him immediate jubilance and anguish the next moment. The face

behind the bruises was hard to recognize but the innocence was impossible to miss.

It was his adorable son who was standing before him in a plight no father would like

to see his child in. It gave him an instant heartbreak to see his son in such wretched

state. It was an evident instance of loot or a wild attack. He made him sit in his chair

and brought water to quench his thirst. Afterwards, he cleaned his wounds and

applied turmeric.


"Everything's gone father, every single penny I earned. They took

away all the rewards of my hard work and your patience!" said Gopal, the poor boy.

"Tell me son, how many survive a violent robbery in a deep forest in such a weather?

Do not be ungrateful. Thank God that you are alive!" said an experienced voice.

"You are right father. Looking back it seems magical that I managed to come home in

as miserable a state as this. After pulling through the deadly forest, I lost the better

part of my spirits. But whenever I was on the verge of succumbing, a distant light

pulled me up and gave me a hope; hope of survival. It was so delicate, yet it refused

to surrender before the harsh storm. How could I let down that heavenly sparkle

father; that flame, the flame of your candle, the flame of faith in your heart? I

sincerely thank God for the divine light!"

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