"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




"Look, children should listen to what parents tell. You should learn to control that hyperactive curiosity of yours boy," ordained both parents in unison as the boy sheepishly looked at them from behind the rock. "Stop hiding behind that rock and get inside the cave right now," the father ordered as he extended his trembling hand to pull the boy in. The boy reluctantly thrust his hand and was hastily dragged inside the cave.
 
"See my child. This cave is our home and it protects us. That thing out there is dangerous. It is ferocious, eats anything it can lay hands on. It has killed many of our ancestors. It is cursed. It's touch is so bad that it does not leave anything behind. It's victims get powdered."
 
"Powered?" shrieked the boy in disbelief
 
"Yes," continued the mother, "that's why we all stay as far away from it as possible. Haven't you heard how it roars when its hungry?"
 
"No ma," replied the boy, with his curiosity germinating again, "actually I only hear it whispering... swishing and hissing, and I even felt it called my name..." and he started craning his neck to look outside.
 
"Hissing, right?" interrupted the mother and pulled the boy inside the cave again, "that's just like the snake isn't it? It's as poisonous as the snake, they say."
 
The boy wasn't to be convinced. He kept peeking outside and kept getting reprimanded by his mother. Father sat at the mouth of the cave observing the movements outside and making sure his family was safe, while the swishing and howling continued outside. The boy had felt a strange warmth when he had been close to it for a brief moment, until the parents had pulled him back. He could not sleep that night, wondering if his parents were right, if that "thing" outside was really harmful at all?
 
Sometime in the middle of the night, with his parents fast asleep, he sneaked out of the cave. He walked out to see it was still there. He saw it everywhere. It seemed like the mother had littered babies;  they were scattered all over the place. He saw the little ones running all over the hill - playing on the grass, climbing the trees. They had killed the birds and the rats. They had even begun devouring the farm and its plants. He threw a stone at the farm, but they went about their munching without regard to him or his stone. "If they don't care about me, then why did mama tell me they are dangerous?"
 
He inquisitiveness peaked and he walked towards the farm to look closer. One of the babies was munching on a broken stick. He grabbed the other end of the stick and lifted it in the air. The baby continued to munch from the other side. He shook the stick but it would not fall - it kept munching and hissing. He hissed back at it; it did not care. He held on to the stick, turned around, and ran into the cave to show it to his parents.
 
That child, that boy, that day, was when humanity discovered fire.
 
 
 
 
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