Monday, 7 September 2015

House on Fire

When people come to console you when your house is burnt they say that house being destroyed by fire is a harbinger of greater prosperity and it is the sign that the victims would become richer. How much water the saying holds – I do not know. But it was told to me too, when my (Pha Chim) parental home was consumed by the wrath of the fire.


I was just in the service and the news sent me imagining about my parents and siblings left with nothing and spending the cold night under the stars without blankets and mattress. Not even having pots and pans to cook or having changes the following day.

The cause of the fire was not known therefore, as always it was conveniently blamed for the electric short circuit. It was convenient because the power department does not give a damn and no one sues them or asks for compensation from them. When you do not know the actual cause of the fire, you tend to commit more sins by doubting others with whom you might have had a strained relation. Putting off the flame is out of question due to the architectural design of the Bhutanese houses, having more of timber, dried by the ages and ready to burst into flames.  

It is the worst thing that can happen to anybody. The moment after the fire you lose everything – the savings, the hoardings, the very things that you considered precious and indispensible turns into ashes. Other than the clothing that you are wearing you are left with nothing. The thought of getting yourself burned with the house is overpowering. And people come and console you saying, “It is the sign of greater prosperity and future richness to come…..”

That night you spend the night under the makeshift hut thinking of how to start the life from the scratch and rebuilding the house. You cannot comprehend the numbers of precious things that you lost - the favorite cloth, the favorite shoes, the antiques that you thought that you will pass it down to your children, all turned into ashes. The only thing that keeps you going is the support of the friends and the families. The Nu. 10000/- that you get from the King these days, had it been there, would have been a great boon.

You become rich after the fire, mentally. The peoples are right. Your attachment to the material things vanishes. You realize the futility of hoarding and keeping for the future use. The things which were useless but kept it in some corners of the trunk were all gone. The things which occupied space keeping it and which could not be given away were all gone. The stockpiles of photographs and frames, books, religious texts all turned into ashes. ‘If you do not require it give it to others or dump it’ - is best taught by the house fire.

The new house would contain necessary things only partly due to the budgetary problems and partly due to the realization of its triviality in keeping it. It would look more like a house and not museum or a store.

Rich is the one whose desires are limited. Desire becomes limited when the hoarding attitude fades away. How many of us have suitcase full of stuff that we hardly use? It is not necessary for us to wait for the house to catch fire before grasping the vainness of hoarding for the future use.

House on fire does make you rich, by truncating your wants and teaching you the insignificance of hoarding.