Monday, 25 July 2016

the beauty of dancing flames

when leaps of flames lick a school
the cackling sounds of fervour

raising arms in rebellion. when billows of
smoke trumpet fragrance

of education gone awry. isn't it a beautiful
sight to see the ashes of the pretentious edifice

blown by the mocking wind? isn't there magic,
something of hallowed curiosity

in the soot, the ashes of burnt books,
the half-burnt book-shelves

testily saying, 'here, grab this wood'.
that is what happens when education

loses meaning. i used to think incendiary thoughts,
the sparkling flames

of revolutionary ideas or just the pursuit of
knowledge, telling the professor

"i need not useless qualifications but a mind
that can pursue a thought

as a hunter would a deer." but I was wrong.
for when I see these flames

i smile wryly at the astonished look around
and a nation dousing the flames

of a burning academic pretence. but unwittingly
fanning the flames

of testosterone-filled, rogue, 'utado'
generation of students, the mirror images

of a nation that once burnt itself but
whose God's grace doused the flames

at exactly 3 a.m, the Godly hour
when the Divine Will triumphed over

a state that was to-be-no-more. when a coward
runs to you, saying, "look, I will burn

myself!" do you quizzically look at her and say,
" please do it during the day, so that we see

the magic of a walking inferno" or do you
tearfully hug her and say,

"here is a piece of me, if you want to burn yourself
get the petrol and let us both burn

in a pyre." but when twenty cowards
congregate at your doorstep

saying, " we assemble here to burn ourselves
as a protest to the

uselessness of this life." do you get a bakora
and chase them down through the

village square, past the butcher, past
the bookshop, past

the crematorium, where incidentally
they should torch themselves

to let the wind of death blow
their ashes, perhaps in solidarity

to their earthly protest? but what happens
when curious minds, once a tabernacle

of ideas, walk around dazed, seeing beauty
in book-ashes, book-shelf-ashes,

lecture-hall-ashes. anyway, burnt schools
never scare me. What scares me

is that for a long time, our education
has burnt our child-like curiosity

and what we carry in our heads
are ashes: cindered dreams, powdered

cogitations, embers of passivity, charcoals
of dulled yes-yes, relics of shame

that accept untruths, bigotry. isn't it
curious that

the thoughts of flames and ashes
evoke within us

passionate intensity
like a town crier's announcement

in the noon-day of our heightened ignorance.
See those flames? they are

a harbinger of hope. see those ashes? they are
the urn's contents, a reminder of the
hollowness of our education.


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