Prevent That Fire
Pravin Vaghani (Photo by Unusha)
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Prevent That Fire
Prevent That Fire
One day on a hot summer day I was travelling on the National Highway no.1 from Melbourne to Warrnambool. It was a scorching hot day in the middle of the bushfire season. The temperature was in the high thirties. CFA fire fighters and their volunteers were fighting bushfires at 9 different locations around the country.
The traffic was thin. The road ahead was clear. I had the car going steadily at 90kph (in 100kph zone) under the cruise control. The AC of the car was working hard to keep the interior atmosphere in the car comfortably cool. The asphalt on the road was so hot it was glaring to the eyes. I could see the reflections of the tree on the mirror like surface of the road over a hundred meters in front. There was not a single bird flying around in this heat. They were all sheltering in the bushy trees, of the forest on both sides of the road. Actually the road was cutting through a national park. All the grass was tinder dry and yellow in color.
I caught up with a truck going ahead of me. I was planning to overtake the truck when suddenly the break red lights of the truck glared, it slowed down, veered to the left and stopped. Considering this as a signal of some dangerous situation ahead, I also thought it prudent to stop behind the truck.
Kill It :
The truck driver climbed down, he had a large bottle of water and a woolen blanket in his hands. I now saw that on the side of the road some grass was burning. Some passerby (am I allowed to call him an idiot, stupid or inconsiderate?) must have thrown a burning cigarette butt in this dry yellow grass which had started the fire. The driver sprinkled the water over the burning grass. But the fire kept on. He started beating the fire with the blanket. I also brought a bottle of water and a woolen blanket from the car(In Australia, we always keep extra water and a woolen blanket in the car)and joined the driver to fight the fire. I will not list here all the swearing words the driver kept on uttering during this fire fighting operation. It took us best part of half an hour to extinguish thoroughly the fire.
Truck Driver’s Knowledge of Experience:
After the operation, although he did not have to do it, the driver thanked me, because as a regular user of the highways, he considered the safety of the environment of the highways his responsibility also. He said, “You know, if we did not extinguish that little fire now it can spread through the whole forest and create vast destruction. God knows, how many birds and animals would die and heavens forbid if some houses may not burn and human lives lost. I have seen it all happen with my own eyes.” A truck driver may not be highly educated, but driving day and night on all roads of the country and being through fires, floods and draughts, the knowledge of their experience is very vast. He knew from general knowledge acquired during his truck driving carrier that a small spark of fire can grow into such a large bushfire that can burn down forests, houses and sometimes human lives as well.
Nip It in The Bud:
It is best to extinguish that spark of fire at its birth.
Fire in The Family, How It Starts:
Sitting back in the car I thought about what the driver’s message was. In family, friends, community, sometimes somebody utters an unpleasant word that creates an argument, displeasure. The bonds of relationship are usually made of a thin thread of sentimentality which need to be nourished and cared for with tenderness in heart and strengthened with sweetness. A little hard pull or sharp words can break it. A little heat of unpleasant words can burn it. Arguments can create irritation and generate bitterness. This fire can spread so wildly that families may be destroyed.
It is best to nip that fire in the bud. Extinguish it, at all cost. Give up the pride. Do not worry about your honour, they are not worth preserving at the cost of the unity, harmony and happiness of the family.
Remember, the person who makes sacrifice is greater than the one who is asking for it !
I remember an incident at a social function. A grandfather of 65 and a grandchild of 5 years were sitting at two different tables at a social dinner. They both were looking at each other and exchanging smiles and signals. But I did not see them getting up and hugging each other. I came to know later that the two brothers, the sons of that grandfather, had cut off relations due to some argument. The matter may have been trivial for outsiders but it hurt their personal pride. One small incident, a moment of intolerance, anxiety, misconception, misbehavior, totaled up to heated exchange of words. The fragile thread of bond got burnt into the fire. The father was now living with one son. The son forbid his father to see the other son. The other son forbid the child to see his grandfather.
Get The Help, Meditate over It:
To fight a bushfire plenty of help is available. There are advices, equipments, available to prevent it. But there is no help in fighting the family fire. And if any help is offered by well wishers, it is rejected outright. And to what end ? The fire inside keeps eating away the happiness of family and its heat touches the lives of the new comers in the family as well, who had no part in starting that fire.
In many movies, Hollywood and Bollywood alike, the animosity created by one generation is shown passing down through to several generations!
Would it not be better to quench that fire and let some fragrant flowers flourish on that burnt ground ?
(The incident of fire happened in the summer of 2006. The social dinner was a celebration dinner of the community a year or two before that. An article covering this was originally written in Gujarati. This is part of that article)
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