July 1947

Everything burns, in the end, everything comes crashing down.

He watched the candle flicker, hot wax, slowly dripping from its side. Sensually. Softly, smoothly. As it entered the plate, the contact with the water, emitted a small hiss. He loved fire, he loved how it seemed to be alive, how it burned, and glowered, how it was red, orange, and yellow, all flickering and swaying with its own light. He loved how he could almost see images in its core.

They were walking slowly along the side of the road. Depressed, despondent. His mother was crying, his grandfather was slowly hobbling on his cane, his grandmother held his father’s arm, as he maintained a brave face, and carried the sack he had. The sack that contained all their belongings. All that they had and owned. 

The flames, alive, hissing, seething, burning. Angry, red. Always the daredevil, he rushed a finger through them. It came out, the other side, untouched. Then two, then three, then the whole hand.

On their way, they could see angry black smoke rising from houses and fields, from whole villages, screams mixing in with it. Fire consuming everything.

Fire is a tool; it is a weapon. It does not discriminate, fire takes all.

They discriminated, but the fire did not. It took them all, women with red dots on their faces, women with scarves around their necks, their families. He wondered why they were doing this? Why people were killing each other?  

Fire can drive people to the edge, it can make them insane, but from it can come the greatest creations.

He was old enough to understand what prompted them, old enough to understand the reason that was being given across the country, across both countries he had to think now, but young enough to not understand why people would be so cruel. His innocence was in his youth. His sanity was in his youth.

 He looked at the candle, tears in his eyes.

He looked on tears in his eyes, as the others took advantage of his mother, his father’s throat still freshly slit, blood seeping into the thirsty, cracking ground. Were they Muslims? Were they Hindus? Did they care what he was? Did it matter? A mania had gripped them all. His grandfather was struggling to get up from the ground, a gash on his head. His grandmother was crying. He looked on.

He could see monsters and beasts in the fire, flickering, dancing, coming for him.

They had slit his mother’s throat when they were done with her, kicked the grandfather in his stomach, he groaned and closed his eyes never to open them again. And slit his grandmother’s throat. And then he woke from his paralysis, and ran, and ran, and ran. Until he was in an empty house.

They were hungry, the monsters in the fire. Or was it the fire that was hungry. His tears came faster, and faster.

Why did they have to break apart? They had been friends, been brothers. He hid in a corner until his stomach forced him to the kitchen. He found a candle, lit it and ate. And then he stared at the candle.

He wiped his wet eyes, and slowly, deliberately tipped the candle. He watched the fire grow bigger, grow hungrier, and he remained silent as it started to devour him. And then he smiled.