A starry night. / SUR

A year of stars

A new year is about to begin, number 2023 of the Christian era

IGNACIO LILLO

All the lights go out in my district. I'm halfway up Calle Cristo, walking my dog Nori, and the first sensation is atavistic, fear of the dark and the beings that may lurk in it. Then my pupils, which just beforehand had been trying to avoid the excessive light and car headlights, start to adapt to the new situation and begin to perceive their surroundings in a different way.

The first to react are groups of teenagers, running up and down the street, shouting and excited by the novelty and perhaps something stronger. But then people form a line of beacons with the torches on their mobile phones, which are the candles of the 21st century.

Now we can walk along the pavement without bumping into the seats, where the beggars (there are more of them every day, by the way) are already asleep even though it is early, as if someone had turned the light out in their room.

A blackout teaches us how vulnerable we are, how dependent on conveniences. I get home and all I can think of is that the torches, if I can remember where they are, work with batteries and the only ones we have are rechargeable and will undoubtedly be flat; or they plug into a power point with a USB, but there is no electricity.

I find a small candle and a very pretty glass holder that we brought home from holiday as a souvenir. Handily, there is a lighter nearby and, what's more, it actually has gas and lights.

On the terrace there is a light which has a small solar panel inside to charge it. It can be taken off the wall quite easily, so it becomes the epicentre of the house's lighting system for the evening.

It was precisely when I went outside to fetch the solar lamp that I discovered the gift of the night: looking up, the sky was full of stars. Obviously not like a mountain in the early hours of the morning, when there are millions, but a lot more than normal in the centre of a city where, for once, they were not eclipsed by street lights.

What I'm trying to tell you, metaphorically, is that a new year is about to begin, number 2023 of the Christian era. Just like the one that is coming to an end, this one is not going to be easy either, probably quite the opposite: dark and uncertain. At times it will be scary and we will have to reach for the torches, although there will always be someone to light the way with their mobile. And in the deepest darkness of the night, the stars will appear once again. Happy New Year.