When I was about 10 years old, there was an announcement in the local newspaper that a "firefly night" would be held in a nearby park. Thousands of fireflies would be released in the park for the public to enjoy, the article claimed.
The park, spacious but devoid of any clean running water, was not naturally a habitat of the light-emitting insects. The event was clearly meant to be one-off, with the fireflies brought in from somewhere else, either captivated in the wild or artificially nurtured.
In the contemporary atmosphere ever-conscious of animal welfare and environmental concerns, such an event would raise the eyebrows of many. At that time, however, thirty-something years ago, nobody seemed to have any objections. The fireflies might eventually perish in a foreign environment, but the joy that these insects give, no matter how temporary, was thought to justify the whole fuss (and mess for the insects).
I got all excited to read the article, and asked my mother to take me to the park. We had to ride the train to reach there. I took my small sister, equipped with insect net and cage. When we arrived at the station, there were already lots of kids with eager eyes. They had only one thing in mind. To see a firefly, and, if possible, to capture it to take home.
From the newspaper article, I had a vivid imagination of light points moving here and there in the dark, overwhelming the vision. The reality turned out to be more mundane. Perhaps the numbers were correct. However, averaged over the spaciousness of the designated park, the number of fireflies per unit area turned out to be disappointingly low.
"There are no fireflies," exclaimed my sister. "I would like to go home," she begun to wail. Perhaps the darkness frightened her. I did not want to go home in a hurry, so I kept saying "the fireflies would be in that direction", and continued to move around in the dark forest.
(This story is to be continued)