Burnt Out

As a child, I had loved summer evening power cuts. I prayed for their timely arrival. Kids swarmed out of their houses like prisoners from their cells. Mothers followed us with torchlights and warnings, “Don’t go too far”. That one hour was sacrosanct.

These blackouts were our playtime bonuses. We would either play hide and seek or coax our grandparents into telling us spooky stories. We were like demons, drawn to darkness.

Then came the era of “emergency” lights; these chargeable, portable lights were an absolute spoiler. Ma got one as well. It was imperative that her children learn something instead of turning into roadside rogues. I never quite understood why they were called “emergency” lights. Every household was getting one. It just meant one thing; no more loafing around. That’s when we actually understood how terrible power cuts were. We were mostly miserable and sweaty. Then came full power backups and that ruined our childhood forever.

I had almost forgotten how power outages felt like until I was plucked from the comfort of my own house, where everything was served right under my nose, and was planted in this new place I had to make home.

Like us mortals, God too has ways of humoring himself (Himself because I grew up watching TV shows with the grandparents, where goddesses were pretty much chill, until provoked). They relied on dark humor mostly. Literally so, in my case.

It was a chilly winter evening, my second day in our new house, I was enjoying my evening tea when there was a sudden blackout. It was around 6 in the evening and pitch dark by now.

This was an emergency. There were no candles, clearly I had failed at the kitchen list. Now, I knew why they were called emergency lights. Thankfully, I had a fancy phone with a torchlight to kill the dark. All those uncomforting stories narrated by the grandparents came floating back, the backdrop of their stories resembled my current location. Frantic calls to the husband were useless. “Ok. It will be back soon. Nothing to be scared.” he had said breezily.

By now my new neighbour had presented herself. She told me that these power cuts were pretty frequent, thrice a day and there was a pattern to it. She told me the timings so that I would try and work things around it. I was pretty stunned. I didn’t know if I was to note it down or memorize it.

I confronted the husband about this. “We have a separate connection for the camp and there is a generator as well”. He sounded pompous and I wasn’t pleased at all.

So one fine day, while I waited for power to be back up, I was told that a transformer had burnt somewhere and there would be no electricity that night. It was earth shattering news, like all hell had broken loose. I felt like a cave person, I would have to make fire with stones and the husband would have to come home with a kill, probably a rabbit. We had a not-so-fancy-candle-light dinner that day, certainly not out of choice but it was a pleasant evening.

Reality strikes hard, and it did the next morning when there was no water. I had once read about this gentleman who was solely relying on solar power and wasn’t paying for electricity for 16 years now, it was quite commendable. We were close, we relied on the hand pump in our backyard. While the dear husband was busy filling in gallons of water, I tried carrying the buckets back; hashtag pretention. I couldn’t move anything, they were beyond heavy. In my defence, I tried dragging the bucket but most of the water just kept spilling out.

I already knew a few things about myself, now. I couldn’t cook to save my life, was a dainty darling so couldn’t move stuff around (nobody could have), couldn’t sing. Over the months, I would discover all the couldn’ts and would have to wait for that one episode which would turn the tables.

It was a bad morning and worse news followed. Electricity wouldn’t be back for the next two days at least, it could extend further. Such things bring out the worst in you. I wanted to be airlifted from there, I wanted to burn the house down, I wanted to march up to this power-house guy and give him a good piece of advice. I cried mostly. People cry over broken relationships, dead people, loss of hair, being disowned by parents; I  cried because there was no electricity at home.

It had been the worst four days of my life. I had seen a Raddisson on my way to this hell hole. I wondered if we could spend a few days there till things were sorted. The husband laughed at the idea, “You’re such a brat. We have slept in places you can’t imagine”. I didn’t want to imagine; this was the worst I could have dealt with. “Do you want to sleep in your grave?” I realized I was good at throwing tantrums and when you’ve spent almost half a week in darkness, evil starts residing in you. In fact, I wanted him to leave the house but that would have been pushing it too far primarily because I was scared of staying alone.

As I was planning a verbal attack, I saw the lights flickering. It was time for some celebratory chicken now.


Image Courtesy: Google


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ankit Roy says:

    Awesome. Next Jhumpa Lahiri on the rise !

    Liked by 1 person

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