The last match stick

During the Deepavali festival celebrations, I will step out of the house early in the morning with a big bag of crackers, incense sticks, candles & match box; and won’t return home until I have exhausted all the crackers and lit a bonfire at the end of the day. If I come back home when parents are around, they would hold me back at home spoiling my precious day so I would try not to go back to home at all.

Deepavali was the first lesson in managing things at hand for me. Twice I was left out with a box of crackers and nobody around had a matchstick to light a fire, everyone’s situation was the same; you get back home you can’t come back until you are permitted to leave the house again. So no one could run back home and bring a matchbox, stores were also closed so we had to curtail our celebration and return.

Every year we are better in mind power than the previous year, so we learnt to avoid running out of match sticks by using a lot of incense sticks, keeping the fire alive through candles. We also learnt to light an incense stick with another incense stick. Yet we would hit the dreaded problem of the last match stick, at this point all of us would gather all the paper, leaves and twigs lying around and make a bonfire so that we can continue further.

Lighting the last match stick meant everyone gathers around close to break the wind, holding our breaths and giving the task to the eldest person in the group. We will make sure the last match stick is well used. Though this looks like seemingly benign, the mindset of splurging unless when things become scarce is extremely present. I used to light a box full of matches within an hour on seemingly useless things.

We are very hard on our future self, even if the future self is just a few hours away

Instant gratification does not let us see into distant future, it is also hard to teach to people such an abstract term but I have seen my grandparents tried to imbibe this from my childhood days. Even though there would be plenty of water, they never consumed more than that was required. Food was always upcycled, rarely thrown away. They still carry water bottles before leaving the house, while I still look to buy a throwaway bottle.

And yes the obvious one, they treated every match stick as the last match stick they had and carefully used them.

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