I once saw a wise and old candle maker, sitting alone in a little cozy room, a magnifying glass on one side of his nose, under a little lamp, carving something. By right, since he’s a candle maker, he should be making candles. That’s an easy task, considering the fact that candles are just made of wax – just melt it and mold it – so why the magnifying glass, the lamp and the scrutiny?
“It’s a special little candle, my son,” he said slowly without even looking up. Not willing to take his eyes off the task his hands are on, he replied under that same breath, “It’s a special candle.”
Special? What’s so special about a candle? Don’t all candles serve the same purpose of being lit and lighting up the surroundings?
He saw people changing candles every time. It was a tiring process of having to climb up the ladder and remove the wax from the candle holder, fix a new one on top and light it. It was more than just tedious, it was sometimes dangerous. Many little children have tried changing the candles and got burnt. Houses burnt down because they weren’t careful while fixing the new candles. Lives lost in the process of that. Something needs to be done, he said to himself. And how it can be done, was by removing the need of having to change those candles instead. In the process, he came up with an idea, of making a candle that will never burn out. If it can’t be burnt out, it wouldn’t need to be changed or replaced.
“I spent a lot of time thinking, honestly,” his knife carving little holes all over the candle that he was making. “How could I make a candle that will never burn out?”
Eventually he revealed to me his little secret. What he did, was that he collected the waxes of used candles – the candles tears – and heated it over and over again. It was so condensed and so concentrated, that it became almost pure wax, nothing but the essence of condensed wax. It was wax that was never diluted, never bought from outside, never taken from brand new candles, but it was once an ordinary candle that was lit, burnt out and recollected. This wax will burn even longer than normal wax – since it is concentrated – and it burns brighter – since it’s made of purer wax than the rest.
After collecting the essence of the candle, he moulded the wax into the shape of a hollow cylindrical tube, empty in the middle. Then he inserted a little metal rod with holes all over the metal rod into that moulded wax. Finally, the wig was stuffed unto the candle tip.
“A perfect candle, my friend.” He picked up that candle and smiled.
Why the hole-y metal rod in the middle? I asked.
It will be used to refill the candle. The wax, no matter how concentrated and how pure, will always run dry. It will always run out one day, so to stop it from dying and being burnt out, wax will be pumped from below the candle upwards, and refilling it sideways to replenish the wax that was once used up.
A masterpiece, he claimed. Satisfied, he gently put down the candle.
I wondered, how long it took him to produce that one candle. Reading my mind, he smiled and threw the question back to me. “How long would it take you to use hundreds or thousands of candles?” Years, I replied. That’s if I only use a candle a night. “Exactly.” The desired answer came as swift as my reply.
Another question popped into my little brain, How many more candles would he need to make? This time, I spoke my mind. He tilted his head into the air, engaged in some air-ithmetic for a moment, and looked back onto the desk where the candle was laid to rest, “As many as this world needs.”
A strong and sturdy candle! Wow! I exclaimed. It must be the best in the world. One that will never burn out, one that will stand strong, one that can light up the surrounding like no other. Isn’t that just amazing? This world is now a better and safer place! Kudos to the great candle maker! Thank God for people like him that choose to make a difference by making this world safer!
Instead of responding as enthusiastically as me, suddenly the smile on his face vanished. Sorrow took over and a bowed curve, written along his forehead. Why the sorrow, I asked curiously.
“You see my son, this candle, though was made to be strong,” he paused to release a sigh. “It will still melt like any other candle. Though it’s the essence of many many burnt candles, it will still melt and burn out too. Unless someone replenishes it, it too will run dry and become useless like any other candle you buy from the store.”
Like any other candle, that candle of steel will still weep. No matter how hard or how long to make it, it still serves the same function like any other, it still goes through the same tears as any other candle. But unlike the rest, for what that steel candle went through, it was made to last and not die.
In the candle maker’s very own words, “Its tears, are the most precious of all, the most painful of all, the most treasured of all. It’s one tear, is the tears of many others that it had to go through.” And he spoke no more of that candle called steel, and went back to make many more.