Wildfires

It is orange again.

Last year we were in disbelief. We knew that someday the earth would implode and cease to support life. We knew that someday humans would face the repercussions of destruction, negligence, and disrespect to this planet. We did not know that someday meant now and not millions, thousands, or at least a hundred years in the future.

It is orange again.

This year we expected it. Like we wait for spring after winter, we were waiting for wildfires after another rainless year – this is normal now. We wear masks to protect our lungs from one thing or another. We dine outdoors beneath an ashy sky. Because if we eat indoors, we run the risk of contracting a deadly virus.

As a kid, I would step out into our yard during a late-evening neighborhood power-cut. I would walk barefoot and twirl, hop, and dance on the concrete. The days were too hot for this sort of thing. Dusk meant too many mosquitoes. A power-cut offered the perfect excuse to experience the mysterious, seductive silence of the outdoors at night. Each time I looked up, millions of stars would twinkle at me from that vast satiny black sky. The future seemed bright, opportunities seemed endless, just like the sky.

Now the future seems bleak. With everything in the news, it’s hard not to feel like it is just the beginning of an apocalyptic end.

My son and I stepped into our yard the other day around 9 pm. I looked up at the sky, hoping to see at least a few stars. The sky was the color of a dusty, worn-out road. I could see faint white specks. Was I looking at stars, or were they figments of my imagination? Maybe those white specks were images from a childhood memory projected onto that listless sky. “Those white dots are stars. Do you see them?” I asked him. He looked confused, his eyes moving around as he tried his best to see whatever he thought I was showing him. But he also looked hopeful. Hopeful that if he looked hard enough, he’d see what Amma could.

I was hopeful too. Hopeful that soon, someday, the smoke will clear, and the stars will twinkle once again on a vast satiny black sky.

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