The Genie and the Lamp

The lamps were destined for somebody else. But he dismissed them as rubbish, eaten by time and scarred by salt and wind. 


Can I have them?  I asked


And dispatched the lamps to a tiny workshop in Mombasa’s backstreets where you can hear the muezzin calling the faithful to pray and where the air rattles with traffic and the throatily insistent call of crows. Where artisans sit cross legged on an earthen floor and hammer brass and burnish it to sunshine gleam so that gloomy interiors seem illuminated.


I unpacked my lamps this morning as I flailed around, trailing the house and eager for occupation, and armed with Brasso and a brush and a handful or rags I set to. Elbow grease and gusto and enough rubbing and I released the Genie of shine.

My lamps winked at me encouragingly.  Keep going! 

The stubborn aqua green of patina grew more beautiful against the deep ember glow of copper. I stopped minding the parts impermeable to my effort, the bits that I was afraid to rub too hard lest the metal crumble to nothing. Instead I took delight in the comparison – where the old showed through, resistant to my hand. Where the brass and glass conspired brightly. 

Suddenly the imperfect was perfect because I could see the tread of time, feel it beneath fingers blackened by the task, feel rough edges where the years had nibbled away. And in the aloneness of my morning I grew happily busy. Just like Mr Burton warned I must.


Tonight I will place a candle in each and watch the light dance. 

One Response to “The Genie and the Lamp”

  1. Addy Says:

    A lovely idea. Happy Christmas !

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