Long years of practice have taught me to ignore much. When the ceiling fan in the drawing room stopped whirring around 1pm on Tuesday, I decided not to notice it. I had read the papers but had not linked the power cut with the grid failure in northern India.
I am a retired 73-year-old government employee. I live in a three-roomed flat in Karunamayee Housing Estate in Salt Lake with my 66-year-old wife (Sumita).
She is wheelchair-bound since a cerebral stroke two years ago. It is not as if we lead a very active life. I have a heart ailment and am not confident venturing out on my own. But even to us, a power cut proves curiously limiting.
Our first-floor flat has been extended twice, leading to an "unplanned growth" of rooms. Many parts of the flat do not get sufficient light. But more darkness seemed to be streaming in from the overcast sky into our flat, already calling for candles in the late afternoon.
I had nothing to do. Literally.
In the absence of artificial lights you see certain things more clearly. Your glasses are not enough. Though the cataract has been removed from both my eyes, I tried to read, but failed. I could not go back to the newspapers for a second look. No P.G. Wodehouse either, whose books I read every day, endlessly.
No TV of course. No rerun of old Bengali films, which often occupies my afternoons. No serials for my wife, who spends most of her time watching TV.
Only rivulets of sweat streaming down our necks. Nothing to do but to sit still.
My wife was lying on her bed. But since her illness, she tends to feel a little cold always. In this case, it was good.
It was also good that we had finished lunch. Getting the wheelchair in the darkness around the dining table would have been difficult.
I couldn't take a nap either. It was too hot.
Nothing to do except call my daughters. My elder daughter, who lives in the city, gave me the bad news about the collapse.
I called my younger daughter, who lives in Mumbai. I tried to prolong the conversation with her, just to be in touch with a person who still had light, but she was busy.
Things didn't look good any more. I tried to talk at length to a courier boy who came to deliver my phone bill and then to a neighbour who called with all the details of the collapse.
On her advice, I set out to buy candles, before it was too dark, when I would not be able to negotiate the staircase. I bought two candles at Rs 20 each and three at Rs 10 each.
I returned home and asked our very efficient young 24-hour attendant to light only two at a time.
I had a long conversation with my brother, after which my mobile phone ran out of charge. I had exhausted all the power in our home. Now our only connection with the world was our landline, which many had forgotten.
So I settled down in the darkness of our drawing room and thought not to think of the "what ifs" ' What if there was a health emergency? What if we ran out of water? What if the electric supply did not return the whole night? What if I didn't get to know Olympics news at all?
My wife joined me in the drawing room. The candle stuck to the sill of the window from which my elder granddaughter swings so often was blown out by a sudden breeze.
Nothing could be darker.
At this point, I did what a true-blue Bengali does. I sang a line from Rabindrasangeet, made more famous by Ritwik Ghatak: "Je raate mor duarguli bhanglo jhore… (The night a storm broke open my doors)."
My wife, who is speech-impaired since her illness, can perfectly enunciate the words of songs she knows. She joined me, in prose.
The candlelight dinner that followed, however, was quite difficult under the circumstances.
We stayed up till the electricity returned after midnight
I looked at it like a precious thing ' glad that it was here, afraid that it might go away.
It had been almost 12 hours. One candle was still left.
What was the worst thing about Tuesday's blackout? Tell email@example.com