“Your house is on fire!” a business colleague said to me, as he knocked on my door and interrupted my meeting. I stood up in shock, and thought he was surely joking. I had just been at home for lunch and I quickly recollected that I did not cook so I did not leave the stove on. “You had better come with me. The fire engines you hear outside right now are on the way to your house.”
As we drove up to my house, we could not go near it. There were 3 fire trucks and twenty or more firemen hosing down what used to be my house and all of my worldly possessions. I had handmade embroidered silk dresses from India, a leather coat lined with fur, and valuable paintings and trinkets from around the world. As I looked at the flames, I felt a deep sense of joy and emptiness I had never felt before. I had no underwear, no toothbrush, only a pile of ash. Nothing was salvageable. I felt free; I was no longer bound to this earth plane as I had no excuse that I could not go anywhere and do anything, as I had no belongings to put in storage or to worry about. I could literally go anywhere and do anything.
A few months later I was in the kitchen making a traditional Indian dish of rice and beans, onions ginger and garlic and Indian spices. It cooks to mush and is highly nutritious and easily digestible. I was in a rush as I was late to my friend’s birthday party. I tried to pull the top of the pressure cooker off, but it was stuck. I tried again, still stuck. I thought I should just leave it, let it cool and come back after the party. Just one more time, I thought as I pulled really hard, and the top came off, and out of it the boiling hot steam and beans blasting all over my face. My face was burning and I was panicked, there was no one around and I did not know what to do. I called my friend, who said to put honey on the burn right away, that it takes out the heat of the burn. I sat in the ER room for nearly 2 hours as there were others that needed priority care before me. After all, it was just my face, nothing life threatening. I had 2nd degree burns in diagonal from my forehead to my chin and my skin was a thick brown bubble. “You may need some reconstructive plastic surgery,” the doctor said.
The next few weeks, I placed wet washcloths on my face at night, and could not go near any light bulbs as the heat made the burn feel like my face was on fire. I was worried I would be scarred for life. The burn healed and I was left with a light scar on the left side of my forehead. I was lucky in the end, although I did not feel lucky at the time. I figured the scar added character and was a reminder that life really is perfect with its imperfections.
The fire was over 10 years ago, and it is amazing how much stuff has been collected since then. Today I gave away 10 garbage bags full of clothes and shoes that I thought I would wear some day… Feels so good and fresh!
Take one drawer of your house or one cabinet, take everything out and only put back in what you have really used in the last 6 months. Get out a trash bag and give the rest away!
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Blessings and Hugs,
- Mahankirn Kaur Khalsa