In my childhood days once my father brought home a beautiful torch; the grooves in its glass resembled the headlights of contemporary cars. The first machine of light in our parts, its beam dissected the night into two, like a miracle. A granny from the neighbourhood asked my father one morning- "Son! give me a little fire, from this machine, to light my stove." With a smile, father said- ‘auntie this has no fire, just the light, it’s switched on in the night to illuminate the rugged mountain paths.’ “It would have been good if there was some fire to go with the light”, said the granny, “I worry about the morning fire even during the night”. Father did not speak a word; adorned the silence for a long time. After all these years, that event, the torch light, the granny’s request for fire, and father’s silence returns like a poem in the irony of our age.
Translation from original hindi poem Torch by Asad Zaidi. The original poem appeared in the collection Naye Yug Mein Shatru (2010) by the poet.