Snow-bound and with no fuel

Published: February 7, 2012

The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban

Mellow candlelight flicks dancing shadows around the room, the movements choreographed by a whisp of bitterly cold draft sneaking inside from goodness knows where.

A pan of vegetable soup simmers on the wood-burning stove, radiating constant waves of warmth from its cast-iron shell.

A combination of moonlight and snowlight illuminates the white world outside the window, where all is muffled silence and the only movement is the endless, slow motion ballet of earthbound snowflakes which began in early morning and perform an endless encore.

The power was off for a full 24 hours, came back for 30 minutes, disappeared for 20, back for 45 and then vanished again in mid-afternoon: That was yesterday. The laptop battery is dead, the battery- powered emergency light followed soon afterwards and the cell phone likewise.

My shrunken world is a place of warmth, peace and strange as it may sound, basks in its own cocoon of comforting security. It is as if all the warmongers habitually plaguing this power-dependent world have vanished along with the electricity.

Suspended as I am in this macrocosm of isolating ice particles and orange-yellow candle flame, world peace seems not only possible but distinctly achievable.

Humankind’s insatiable demand for oil-derived power has driven the world insane: Greed rules and warfare fuels otherwise faltering economies whose ‘future’ markets play vicious hands of poker, tossing countries, nukes, food, water, mineral resources, oil and gas — and the very survival of the human race — into the evilly voracious pot.

Manipulating governments, armies and financial ‘fronts’ of a myriad kinds whilst callously, indeed studiously ignoring the horrific plight of the dispossessed, the maimed, the malnourished men, women and countless legions of innocent children representative of the living debris of man’s inhumanity to man for power and profit, has become the wheel on which ‘modern’ life revolves. A wheel to which the vast majority, the 99 per cent in a manner of speaking, prefer to close their eyes, shutter their hearts and pawn their souls. They do this, rather than accept that clinging to an oil-dependent lifestyle ensures that the one per cent retain their ‘power’ to, inevitably and at some point, destroy everything and everyone we all purport to hold dear. And yes, even the unjustly-persecuted casualties of warfare — be they bombed, shot, shelled or otherwise blown into oblivion — dream of an oil-based lifestyle, a luxury they cannot afford.

We are, all of us, every single person on this God-forsaken planet, responsible for promulgating the warfare because we are so heavily dependent on the oil-derived products we so thoughtlessly take for granted. Replacing ‘oil power’ with alternative energy options has the potential to stop war — to create global peace and yet, when the power is restored to my own little Eden, I too will snuff out the candles and light up my home with other people’s deaths!

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Chulbul Pandey
    Feb 8, 2012 - 8:55AM

    Human brain’s wandering in the duet of light and shadow never cease to amaze me. Very beautifully written. Hats off!


  • Zafar
    Feb 8, 2012 - 12:59PM

    This is the reality of modern world.

    women and countless legions of innocent children representative of the living debris of man’s inhumanity to man

    Alas ! ! !


  • ak47
    Feb 8, 2012 - 2:49PM

    this is too beatifully written to have only one comment..


  • John B
    Feb 8, 2012 - 10:19PM

    So, march on all Ye yearn of freedom
    Shut the factory, turn to fields
    In sweat we toil with all our boredom;
    The progress we see is all for oil.

    Raise the sail and charter the globe
    To loot and plunder from east to west
    As we did since time has started;
    The progress we see is all for oil.

    Slaves we are to our feudal lords
    Give them power with our sweat
    All our ills are others making;
    The progress we see is all for oil.

    Harness not the power of mind
    Idle we lay in worship of light
    Candle we light with all our might
    Power is oil and it is for peril. 


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