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.