Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Flames of the Forest

Image Credit - Robert Huffstutter

We see condolences. We see prayers for peace. Does it matter? All of these meaningless words, to those who are no longer with us.

We all die, either doing something we love, being where we belong or on the hospital bed, with normal saline hooked up. Sometimes people wish you were not gone, sometimes people wish you to leave. Either way, death is painful.

I wonder if anybody would have ever thought how painful it would be to burn with the grasses around you, with the insects, with other animals and birds. The smell of fire and burning wood and flesh, the intense sensation of burning skin, the deep desire to save the strangers you met a day before just because they had put their trust in you, the want to keep the black smoke and soot out of your eyes, mouth, and lungs, the desperation to gasp some oxygen. I cannot imagine whether the end was momentary or whether it was a prolonged agony, can you?

I had not had an opportunity to trek with Arun, Vibin, Divya, Nisha, or others who met with the accident in Theni forest fire. Nonetheless, I can say with strong conviction that they all would have shared a dream to be one with nature at the end of their lives. If you look back at your own life, I am sure you too would have dreamed and felt the same intense pleasure of turning into ash, soil, and blooming into the translucent leaves of a tree in a place where you belong. I am sure you would have weighed it many times more than lying dead on a soiled white hospital sheet; in a cold morgue, frozen.

This feeling is hard to define; however, I know many reading this paragraph would have experienced it at some point in their lives. This feeling of being smolten with the rocks, being dissolved with the water, being blown away with the wind. This dream of being assimilated with the universe, where you came from, with "god" if you wish to say so.

All those lives that breathed the last breath in the flames of the forest would have had plans for years to come, with family and friends, plans of beautiful moments to cherish, plans of comforts in the cities, plans of peace in the forest. Alas, not all the plans could be realized, but their dream had come true though with immense pain.

Though it was a condolence for those whom they left behind, their family, their kin, ones close to their heart, perhaps it was a celebration for them to have their dream come true. Perhaps they smiled at that last moment of their lives, that last split second of inner peace.

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