There was a massive blackout that even the road lights were not working. The only visibility you got was from the headlights of a few cars using the new highway crossing our village.
No electricity meant no TV, shower in the dark, natural ventilation alert (the electric fans dead) and candlelight frenzy. Oh.....no computer and no Internet.... :-(
Isn't it amazing how my world has changed so much? How I now find the highly seldom blackouts as a stumbling block in my daily routine?
Back when I was a kid, blackouts were more frequent but we didn't really see them as obtrusive. My brother and I used to make flat paper puppets specially to be played as shadow shows during blackouts. I even made a whole set of paper puppets for Cinderella complete with the pumpkin horse carriage. We'd create impromptu dialogues and add crazy characters as we felt fit. We didn't mind the darkness as we were just as excited because that was the only time we were allowed to literally play with fire (candle fire...ha..ha).
Just a few days ago, I found this amazing short film clip on You Tube in celebration of Halloween titled Night Light. About a boy who was afraid of the dark and overcame his fear on a night he would never forget.
Among the lines that touched me were when he said "darkness saved me that night" and "shadows of the night are comfort, protection, my home"
On the blackout night, I found myself on the couch facing my mother who was also lying on the opposite couch with one of my younger brothers by the window. We started chatting, talking about our relatives, our lives, the old days when my father started to join in. About how in the days before multiple TV channels, my father would have his friends coming over to play live of a type of Malay music called the Ghazal which normally consisted of an accordion player, a gambus player (like a middle eastern version lute), a tambourine and a kompang (for the percussion and tempo) and a singer (usually my father because his voice is so loud, he never needed a mic). Yes, life was lively in those days.
So, last night, we actually caught up on each other as opposed to doing our own thing when the electricity is there. Normally, my brother would watch a Sports channel or another brother would watch the news and one would play videogames. My mother would be in the bedroom relaxing watching her mom TV. My father would be off to see his friends at the coffee shops. I would be taking my shower and then spend the rest of the night in front of my PC till my bedtime. My sis-in-law would face a hard time getting my nephews to sleep early.
The darkness that the Night Light main character found comfort in stemmed from an event we all would never wish upon ourselves but what I want to share with everyone is how the absence of the light can bring your heart closer to where you feel safest at which is your home.
I guess, in some ways, the occasional blackouts in my village bless my family with comfort, closeness, warmth and revisits to the happy memories we have had together. Like taking our guitars to the verandah and playing old songs from Malaysian super talented the late P.Ramlee.
.........when the darkness gives you light.............don't you think?