Sunday afternoon, and following a weekend of bad weather, rain, strong winds, I wrapped myself in my blanket in the sofa. No TV, no book, just me and my thoughts, and a vanilla candle burning, a flickering flame.
The candle gave far less illumination than the electrical light bulbs, yet it was all my eyes could take. The shapes of the furniture were noticeable. It reminded me home in days gone by, when my grandfather would bring in the firewood and we’d warmed ourselves before the bare flames, basking in the glow, sharing stories and laughing till late at night. I reached out my fingers to the baby flame to feel the warmth and with a half-smile reaching those memories…
If you are following me for a while, you know that I grew up in a small Portuguese village, lost between valleys, mountain and rivers, and electrical outages were very, very frequent indeed! No electrical public lighting in the roads outside the centre of the village, and as you can only imagine, especially during winter, an outage was initially a terrifying experience for me and my little brother, but in time it turned out to be a cherished one for us both… It bounded us together, closer, creating fondly and dear memories. Thanks to those outages I developed a fascination for candles. Let me explain you why…
The house had two floors. Lower floor was where all activity happened during the day, we will have our meals, and tasks, and fun, we would study in there, and laugh, and share our things…
Upper floor has always been the family haven. We used to watch TV and have our Christmas and birthdays presents exchanges, we would play and sing together, have the serious family conversations.
But both floors had something else in common: in both my mum used to keep a special drawer, ‘the candles drawer’ with several candles ready to be used whenever darkness would come!
There was one big candle inside my parents’ room, resting upon the wooden mantle, inside a beautiful vase. It was not a scented candle, it was more like a church candle, no scent or decorative design, no, it was there to serve a purpose. Funny enough, when darkness came that was the most beautiful and magical candle in the world to my brother and I, not only providing light, comfort, but a symbol of moments we shared with our mother and father, stories that were told, words whispered in secret, spooky hilarious episodes only lived during electrical outages and forever carved in our hearts! At those times, it would be covered with sea-waves colours of storybooks, conjuring sea-dragons in pastel shades, a mesmerising sunset and sunrise of colours, no limits for our imagination.
I sat on that sofa for hours, resting my head and settled in to watch that small flickering flame, mesmerised, as still as I would be in a photograph. The only movement was done by my eyes running over the wax, the colours of the layers, blues and greens, perfectly artistic, unique. The blackness of the night swallowed everything and in the dark moonlight, no matter where I am flames flickering and the candles alight would always make me feel protected, would always be magical. I felt the same way as I did as a child, running to my parents’ arms in a cold dark winter night, running to the flame that would always light my path, their candle, their love.
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