The Unlit Flame

She looked back at him standing in the shadows – tall and looming over her shoulders. He smiled and waved her ahead; he would be watching out for her. She bent down again to complete the impossible task that she had set for herself. Butterfly thoughts flitted here and there while she chased them with her flimsy net. Hop, skip and they would disappear…she was too scared to turn and look at his disappointment. The days leaked into nights; nights faded into sunlight but her quest remained incomplete.

Prodded on by the whip of his tongue, she caste aside all hopes of normalcy. Dreams of what glory might follow, her name in bright and bold…these were the rewards he promised as he pushed her to search more, do more, be more. Blinded by the fame and appreciation, she failed to see what lay in front of her. When the Herculean task was finally completed, he deigned to bestow upon her the use of his name. He caught her trying to scribble her own in a corner so that history might not forget her; and hell rained down. How could she defile such great work by claiming the credit for it? Did she not know that the words out of a priest’s mouth would sound more authentic than if it were spoken by a shepherd’s daughter?

They took her away the next day to be locked away in the darkness of her fears. They vacuumed the place of sunshine and joy, assured that she would one day merge with the gloom and understand her true place in the scheme of things. But she knew that she could live away the rest of her days knowing that no matter who held the torch, she was the one who lit the flame.


13 thoughts on “The Unlit Flame

  1. OK, I get this one as an allegory. The thought follows from the previous post, about giving someone else credit for you own work. You know who the people are who are most guilty of this? Religious people, how quickly they are to give credit to their god or gods for their own accomplishments, thus forever disempowering themselves and never finding their own power. But in the patriarchy, it is usually the women who are forced to give up their power to men; men taking credit for women’s labour.

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    • While you are correct about giving the credit to His Grace, it is not about men snatching the credit from women. When they are in a relationship, for example, it is a fact that goes without saying that each brings out the best in the other. So if a man is as good as he seems, it must be coz of his wife. If he isn’t, it’s coz his wife hasnt bothered to “educate” him any better. But I do not deny that there are some men who choose to deny that their women had any part to play in their lives.
      It’s not just about the patriarchy, it’s a “normal” tendency to try to steal credit. It is so much easier than working for it right? I have been in such situations where i have done the donkey work with no help, in fact to the tune of taunts and comments. and then someone else has stepped up to the plate to receive the honours. I have also been friends with a certain individual who has taken affront at the fact that i chose to say that my work was mine…and not his. While he has gone around boasting that it was all his hard work.
      I would like to believe that sometimes I keep shut not because of the weirdness of it all, but because I know that what’s mine can never be stolen.

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  2. In Western society, women are still and almost always, paid less than men while doing the same work. Isn’t that saying that a woman’s labour is worth less than a man’s and stealing a woman’s labour is stealing her energy, and that is the patriarchy in action. Men do this because they can get away with it; the system supports it, encourages it. So the evil spreads throughout society, not just in the workforce. Male children are disrespectful of their mothers and sisters; men mistreat their wives, etc. This is how I read what you describe. This friend of yours who took credit for your work: a man. Women are so used to being treated as second-class people, and as servants of men they often don’t even notice it. You do though. That’s a good thing.

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    • I am not aware of the gender discrimination when it comes to the pay. But yes, I have seen that men are brought up as helpless babes who must be pampered and taken care of at all times. I know many women who boast about the fact that their financial wiz husband cannot find his handkerchief without her aid. I do not condone such behaviour. My partner has to share the workload with me – be it taking care of the house or bringing up kids. I do accept the fact that if I am working from home, my share of household chores will be slightly more than his .My husband is like the ideal man – never saying no to anything coz it’sa “woman’s job”! God, how I hate that term. So I am bringing up my son to know how to do everything. My mother laid emphasis on educating my mind, working and living my life. I wasn’t brought up taking care of the house and kitchen. Things are changing for both genders and hopefully we will be able to bring in a smarter and more understanding generation.
      My “friend” who took credit did it with his holier than thou attitude. Telling me that his inspiration was the one that motivated me to put in all the hours of work while keeping my life on hold. He said he’s doing it for my benefit! can you believe the amount of BS there is in that statement? Goes without saying that we parted ways long back.

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