Let There Be Light

 published in the Nov 3 -Nov 10, 2010 issue of DU beat (www.dubeat.com)


Imagine yourself journeying. On the road, in absolute darkness. Darkness as absolute as only darkness could be. Do you want to take the next step, knowing not what lies ahead? Neither are you in cognizance of the perils of the road, nor of the scenic backgrounds that make even the most perilous journeys worth the trouble. Are you not suddenly gripped by fear? Is not the logical next step next to impossible now?

That is what darkness does. It makes journeys impossible because darkness inspires fear. Fear causes us to shy away from the smallest of risks. Not because the road is always fraught with dangers unknown, but because not knowing what those perils are, is the biggest threat in itself. Darkness is not the menace. The lack of awareness of what darkness hides is the most intimidating of all fears. If we ever wish to burn those shadows however, there is but only one way out. And that is light. One ray of light – potent enough to disturb the darkest of darks. Light, that has been battling darkness since time immemorial, juxtaposed against all the fears that darkness inspires. But as we already know, when we talk of the battle between darkness and light, it is not literal; There are quite a few metaphors involved. And what better time for us to reflect on them than the week of Diwali – the festival of lights. The festival celebrating lights, celebrating the victory of light over darkness.

Let us throw some light on the subject. And there we go. We already have our metaphor coming to us on its own. To light is to illumine something, to make visible what was not apparent before. Is that not the purpose of life? Life is fraught with perils and simultaneously, it is beautiful too. Light helps us determine what is what. Light helps us in our quest of knowing. Light is but a symbol of knowledge. Quite paradoxical it is, but whoever said ‘Ignorance is bliss’, did not know. Forget logic, how could it be blissful to grope in the dark, not knowing where one is going, what one is stepping onto. Light is knowing and knowing is light, and there are no two ways about it.

The question is, how do we know. It is simple. When in darkness, seek light. There are Diyas all around us, within us. Let one Diya light several others. Let us take those burning lights to the darkest corners of every mind and eliminate all fear and let us all burn together for a better world. It is very easy to let the light die. Let us fight together against the darkness or as Martin Luther King Jr. said, we will perish together as fools.

The examples of darkness are rampant around us. Poverty, corruption, inequality, terrorism and several other representatives of the evil keep gnawing at the heart of light and we sit quietly, preferring our blissful ignorance. How blissful! An old leader launches a new one into limelight by teaching him to lead a campaign to ban a book from Mumbai University Syllabus, and we let it pass. It is just one example of how easy it is to be ignorant. Let us not let light die away like that. I have already procured a copy of the book in question (Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry) and I am going to start reading the book as soon as I am done with this article. That is going to be my cracker this Diwali. What is yours?

Let us celebrate knowledge this Diwali. Let us be open to ideas. Let us realize by knowing that we do not know much and that there is so much more to know. Let us celebrate knowledge and in that, question the very existence of darkness. Let us this Diwali, as Dylan Thomas says, begin to rage against the dying of the light.

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