Homeless

We have been reading in the newspapers about refugees in different parts of the world. They are forced to flee from their homes hoping for a better life elsewhere. But they are not welcomed anywhere. They can neither find asylum in foreign countries nor go back home. All that is familiar to them is lost forever. This thought haunts me and the images of slaves through the ages come to mind.

I have just finished reading a fascinating book by Sanjeev Sanyal called The Ocean of Churn. It is about lives of peoples through the ages in lands on the rim of the Indian ocean. The author writes about slave trade. Those people were snatched from their homes, taken to different parts of the world and sold as commodities. They were not treated as individuals but just as possessions. Stolen from their familiar worlds. One wonders what horrors they must they have gone through. It is difficult to imagine the condition of their minds, their utter helplessness. Humans have always been cruel to one another. Some months ago, we read about a son abandoning his father who was suffering from dementia on a state highway. That old man must have been frantic with worry after his familiar world was snatched away from. To this day I cannot understand how the son could be so cruel.

Thoughts of the old man came to mind one evening when I saw many bees inside our house after sunset. We could not make them go out as they were hovering near bright lights. We turned the lights out, and the insects flew to one side of the room. But the moment we turned the lights back on, the bees flew up to them. Maybe when it is dark they cluster together in their hives and feel safe in their familiar world. But that evening they were separated from the others and appeared frantic. They happened to see bright lights when they were expecting darkness in the night. We keep a dim light switched on at night and the bees gathered around it. The next morning with the appearance of sunlight they flew way. But some had died. We have not seen them since. They have moved on.

Light and darkness reminds me of the story, Nightfall. It is one of my favourite stories by Isaac Asimov. I have read it many times and each time it fascinates me. The story is set in a world which has six suns. The people there have no idea of day and night. But, once in two thousand years, the alignment of the suns is such that there is darkness, there is nightfall. People see stars for the first time. The story is all about what happens during and after nightfall. It is about what happens to people and other animals when they lose all that is familiar to them.

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