The forest screamed with darkness. The rain pelted down unrestrained. Trees bellowed in the stormy wind, whooshing with eerie sounds, enough to wake the dead. The lone woodcutter huddled in a threadbare cottage, filled with memorabilia of a life well lived.
A moth took refuge, petrified by the surge of gusty wind. Lightning flashed in the distance. Thunder decided this was a good time to announce its arrival. The startled moth crept up a decrepit table and launched itself between a cup of half drunk coffee and mealy bread.
A fuse burst somewhere and the cottage was plunged into darkness. The moth shuddered, while the woodcutter scrambled clumsily to find a candle. The candle was found and lit.
Suddenly, there was life. The moth looked up in wonder at the golden glowing ball. Fascinated, it stared as the flame kept changing shapes; high and flickering, soft and steady, round and glimmering. Never had it come across anything so capricious, so utterly captivating.
It couldn’t take its eyes off the flame and flew closer to have a look. The flame caught sight of the moth and smiled shyly, casting uneven shadows across the wall. The moth grew bolder, and flew even closer. The flame danced excitedly, flattered by the attention of this quirky creature.
The moth began circling the flame, and the flame became aware of a rhythmic buzzing sound, that was like music to its ears. They began a dance of their own, with the moth flying closer and the flame flickering breathlessly in anticipation.
Round and round went the moth, in a delirious frenzy. The flame glowed brighter drawing whimsical patterns across the floor. The moth had come so close. The warmth was unbearably beautiful. The flame burned with longing. It implored the moth to keep away. It couldn’t belong to anyone. Except the darkness.
The moth would have none of it. It backed off only to fly even closer to the flame. It looked at the flame with a heart alight with desire. The flame tried to recede, shy away from that gaze heavy with raw passion. The moth now emboldened, waltzed even closer and looked straight at the flame.
The flame blushed, dizzy with rapture. The moth looked around wildly. It could barely see through a haze of flaming fervour. The flame made one last feeble attempt to ask the moth to step back.
The moth, hysterical with ardour, was now only a millimetre away from the flame. While the flame lay wait in flurried arousal, the moth drove itself into it with such force that the flame was put out instantly. The candle stand tipped and fell.
The moth lay besides it burnt to a crisp. The flame was no more.
Two souls burnt to death with a passion that couldn’t be restrained.
Has your soulmate connection felt this way?
Quick Facts :
There are various interpretations of the moth and flame story. I list a few of the interesting ones below :
- In its simplest form, the moth-flame metaphor is a simple allusion to the well-known attraction that moths have to bright lights. The word moth was used the the 17th century to mean someone who was apt to be tempted by something that would lead to their downfall. This is referred to by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice, 1596: “Thus hath the candle singd the moth.” [ Source : The Phrase Finder]
- It is also one of the most adored metaphors in Sufi literature. The moth’s annihilation into the flame has been drawn as an analogy for a seeker in the sufi path who seeks annihilation into Divine Essence.
- The moth and flame story is also likened to the process of self-transformation – adopted from the book “Essential Sufism.’
- The Bible also likens love for God as a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29: “Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
- In the book Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid, Daru reflects on his feelings to towards Mumtaz. ” She’s drawn to me just as I’m drawn to her. She can’t keep away. She circles, forced to keep her distance, afraid of abandoning her husband, and even more, her son for too long. But she keeps coming, like a moth to my candle, staying longer than she should, leaving late for dinners and birthday parties, singeing her wings. She’s risking her family for me, her marriage, her reputation. And I the moth, circling her candle, realise that she’s not just a candle. She’s a moth as well, circling me. I look at her, and see myself reflected, my feelings, my desires. And she, looking at me, must see herself. And which of us is moth and which of us is candle hardly seems to matter. We’re both the same. That’s the secret. “