Photo credit: Ashok Prabhakaran
Traditionally, for Akatarek, everyone had their own lamp. Last year, Hanta’s first, Pa had helped her, steadying her hand as she lit the wick.
Now the family huddled around one.
They took turns praying. For the soldiers to return. For peace. For those who were hungry, sick, refugees. For anyone but themselves.
Hanta was youngest, last. Nobody had said it.
“Dear Sambar, if Pa has fallen, please find him. Please bring him to Aranom.”
Her mother laid a trembling arm across Hanta’s shoulders.
Hanta held the hairs to the flame. The acrid smoke lifted the prayer, swirling higher, towards God.
Word count: 100. Written for this week’s Friday Fictioneers. Big thanks go Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting and for providing the original photo prompt (below). Click here to read other stories written for this challenge or to submit your own.
Theological note: Sambarans believe that when you die, your soul floats into the Wailing Winds of Raiz. Those who die in a state of sin are trapped there, caught forever as bodiless spirits, buffeted for eternity by the howling cries of despair of others who are similarly trapped. Those who are devout and good will be plucked from the Winds by Sambar and taken to his realm of mercy and peace, Aranom. The Sambarans who admit there might be a middle ground between “devout Sambaran” and “evil” hold that those people’s souls, after being lost in the Winds for some time, eventually disintegrate into nothingness.
Photo © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields