Disappearing Fireflies

Reading a book where the author writes about fireflies during his evening walks across the city a forlorn feeling of not having seen a firefly for several years, silently floating through a misty evening, overtook me. The little flies, glowing happily, fluttered abundantly near the pomegranate tree by the front porch, by the hedges that formed a natural wall during my growing up days. Every dusk was waited upon patiently to witness greenish-yellow glows, blinking here and gone the next minute. The lights that lit the front porch were never bright then and one could, without any hindrance, immerse oneself in the spectacular show that the fireflies put up for us. Eagerly, my cousins and I dreamt of holding the little fragile fly in the hollow of our palms, making sure not to crush the little insect and if only we were able to catch one we would close one eye and peep through a tiny hole between our fingers. Ah the glow, the brightness, the vivid colour, golden to yellow to a shade between green and yellow!

The fireflies, however, disappeared every morning and magically came back to life each evening! Much like the stars that hid themselves at the onset of dawn, I like to believe, that the fireflies took shelter in their faraway magical land, reposing through the day, perhaps, and along with the stars, their cosmic cousins, they descended from their heavenly abode to greet us each evening, without fail.

I remember how my grandmother, mother and aunts chided us if we ever brought a firefly home or if we tried to catch one! They told us that fireflies live in the cemeteries and are a bad omen. It was hard to fathom what could possibly be remotely ominous about those little glowing creatures for they seemed delicate and magical. As I ponder now I find myself imagining that may be they were messengers from the cemeteries bringing to us tidings from the souls that wandered the earth before us, may be they were earnestly trying to reveal to us the mysteries, the secrets of the world? I can never ascertain for they have disappeared now, slow and gradual, and I have not seen a firefly for more than a decade.

What led to their disappearance? Where the little glowing flies go? The pomegranate tree that used to be their favourite place, I reckon, by our front porch was axed one summer morning and the hedges, the natural boundaries, gave way to concrete walls. The little flies lost their homes; they lost their nightly abodes. A loved one tells me that their warm glows attracted predators and they faded away into obscurity one day at a time. The internet reveals loss of habitat, concretisation, overpowering, blinding city lights that play havoc with these little natural fairy lights. I wonder if one can find them floating over tombstones and graves in the cemeteries talking to the souls there, lamenting, reminiscing the good old days, secluded in their warm silence? Or, are the souls now lonesome, bereft of any company, to pour out their hearts to, their little glowing friends, the disappearing fireflies.

Image Credit : Flash Dantz from Pexels

19 thoughts on “Disappearing Fireflies

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  1. ah you haven’t lost your touch Parikhit! A lovely pondering about the whereabouts.

    Last weekend 8 of us went beach/bushwalking and I pondered why our rock pools are completely empty of critters. We used to find sea urchins, crabs, little fish, anemone, star fish, barnales, etc … now nothing but sea water. Doubt urbanisation harmed them more likely kids just like me collected them to watch and wonder until we took them all 🙁

    1. I completely relate! Somehow so many animals and plants have just disappeared without a trace. I still want to believe that the sea urchins, star fish are there in some coast where they happily repose under the blue sky.

  2. Awesome story on these fireflies that are sure disappearing, Parikhit. Today so many of our insect and bird species are completely disappearing from our planet. I remember as children we have seen so many in farms and gardens but today not one can be seen.

    1. I agree. The beetles, the lady-bugs, praying mantis, I just don’t see them anymore! Rapid urbanisation takes a toll on these little creatures. For that matter sparrows are fading away too.

      1. Yes completely true and same here I stay in Mumbai where we have the crows, pigeons and few sparrows. Urbanization has played havoc and trees are falling like mad. Let’s hope to see a better world.

      2. I know! I remember reading a month ago that in Bangalore they cut down a massive tree that was a home for so many birds. It felt more personal because the tree was near the bus-stand where I waited every morning. I do hope we have a better world soon.

  3. Parikhit, your wonderful reflection took me back to my childhood. Fireflies were such an integral part of those days. I lament that my kids can’t see fireflies, sparrows, frogs everyday cooped in a high rise building in a bustling city. Your words made my heart yearn for quiet, laidback days.

    1. Thank you so much Punam! I agree, I seldom see the little birds and butterflies that used to be all over during my growing up days. Somehow they have faded into oblivion. But I do want to be believe that we can create space for every creature, big or small. A few generous steps 🙂

  4. Such beautiful musings! I’ve never seen a firefly, growing up only in cities. The way you describe them really makes me wish I could. :’)

    1. Thank you so much Ana! Believe me they were a wonder to just sit and observe! I have not seen one for years now and it makes me wonder where have they disappeared.

  5. “They told us that fireflies live in the cemeteries and are a bad omen.”

    This sounds so interesting! Wow. Never heard that before, but then, I’ve seen fireflies only too rarely to have been able to know more about them, the awe and glee upon beholding was all I remember.
    I loved the part about the cemetery and messages from souls the most. Interestingly, I also remember watching a video the other day where a woman recounted her experience of having “seen” her spirit guide/s, after asking them to reveal themselves. Apparently a number of fireflies collected in a group and seemed to become one with a lightbulb in the porch that began glowing brightly at once. There are some other theories that describe souls as having a firefly-like glow. 😊

    1. That sounds like an interesting video! Fireflies are enchanting, so very much and it is rather sad that they are seldom seen. The theory that souls have a firefly like glow puts so many thoughts into the head! Pure magic

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