Winter light of lapis and polished sterling flooded the room through the paired windows. The stone around the openings flared outward into the room, magnifying the illumination to make the infirmary cell much brighter than Rāhula would have imagined. He was grateful, prayers of thanks going up every morning when the sun slipped into his room.
The old monk lay still, his eyes tracking the progress of snow finches across the flagstone patio outside the window. His bed had been pushed close to the window to afford a view out. The weight of the blankets and bandages served as warm anchors. But it was the pain in his skin that acted as biggest shackle. Rāhula's eyes twitched in time with the hopping birds, his racing mind considering that the pain was simply another attachment. The task, he thought, was to consume the horrible ache before it consumed him.
The smell of gasoline lingered as a phantom haunt in his nostrils. Blinding sunlight and the horrified screams of passers-by kaleidoscoped across his memory. He gritted his teeth. Tears surged, searing his dry eyes. Rapid blinks cleared his vision. The snow finches snapped into sharp focus.
Rāhula smiled, a reflex action at odds with his will, but felt good. Watching the finches peck at the black scatterings of nyjer seeds on the snow, Rāhula decided then that he would never again set himself afire for anyone. Not the government, not the news, not even himself.