it began, as all the best stories do, with:
once upon a time.
once upon a time
there was a prince, the strongest in all the lands. &, more importantly, the most loving. he was called Ram.
& there was his wife, the loveliest in all the lands. &, more importantly, the most courageous. she was called Sita.
& they loved each other so deeply that life & death called a truce just to watch them dance.
they loved each other so deeply that, when Sita was kidnapped by a murderous demon, the trees stopped growing & the skies stopped singing & Ram let out a sound so stunned & sorrowful that the earth could hardly bear to listen.
& Ram beseeched the monkey god Hanuman to help him find Sita, & they both wandered the mourning lands, searching & searching & asking all those they saw if Sita was anywhere to be found until at last - at last - at last -
here she was: in the clutches of the demon king Ravan.
& now, all the animals of the world joined Ram & Hanuman in their fight, & the sea lent them her strongest waves, & the earth lent them her crashing quakes, & the sky lent them her unbreakable dawn -
& finally, after a battle of too many aching days to recount here, Ravan was vanquished.
& so Ram & Sita walked home - weary & battle-torn, & still dripping in leftover darkness. & though they were together at last, it is a difficult thing to shed the horrors of war so quickly. & not even the stars shining above them could light their way as they trudged through the murky night.
but as they drew nearer to the kingdom they had left behind, they saw one last miracle flickering on the horizon:
& then another.
& one more.
& here it was: their subjects had not forgotten them. they had not been left to fend for themselves.
the light was here to guide them homeward.
& they called it, from the first spark to every anniversary of that night thereafter:
festival of lights.
festival of hope.
festival of love.
festival of goodness.
festival of home. & of coming back with the one you love in your arms. & of seeing only darkness on the horizon. & then, just as you are about to put your head down once more, of the single candle that flickers, bright & resolute:
you made it.
so yes. i am a romantic. & i believe in flowers & candles & love stories & happy endings.
& tomorrow we will move forward. & tomorrow dusk will creep up, however uninvited. & tomorrow midnight will pounce on the unwitting sun. & tomorrow the scratching night descends once more, & tomorrow shadows will crawl up again, & tomorrow the darkness will reform its desperate web.
but that is tomorrow.
today there is only the light.