Monday, July 10, 2006

The moth

It was not my intention to write anything, but a moth just fell on my head. I brushed it away, and it lay on the floor for a minute, before it started to move again. And then it flew straight back up to the lights on the ceiling, hovering and flittering around them like a compulsive-neurotic.

In classical urdu poetry, and I expect persian and other regional and desi languages too, the moth is a metaphor for the romantic, the lover. The light or flame that is the object of the moth's attentions [affections] represents the beloved. The moth is drawn to the flame the way a lover is to his beloved, but ultimately both the flame and the beloved are unattainable, and the ultimate fate of those who draw too close is to be consumed and destroyed by their own obsession. What compels a moth to hurtle to his own doom, of his own accord heading closer and closer to a fire that will destroy him? Who can explain this fatal attraction, this headlong plunge towards one's own destruction?

Lata sings in the song Aayega Aanewala of a lover's longing for her lost beloved. Here, the flame is absent, but even then there is a reference to the metaphor of the moth and the flame. The pain of the lover is described thus: deepak bagair kaise, parvane jal rahe hain? There is no flame, yet why do the moths still burn?

Meanwhile my moth has better sense than most. He has abandoned the light and is now cooling his passions in a corner of the room. Not all moths are as foolish as lovers.