|Photo by and courtesy of Ajay Amrit Ghatage, 2014|
A beautiful house with big empty windows,
like gaping holes of unloved loneliness and pain.
If we could look into her soul we might see,
beyond the cracks and age-stained walls:
Parapets for a teenager to straddle with
a second-hand paperback and a cup of afternoon tea.
Terraces for her older brother to sneak a cigarette.
Corridors for children to roll marbles down,
and window ledges for their dolls’ houses.
Verandahs for lovers to whisper and wish and dream,
and hold hands and watch the rain come down together.
Knee-easy steps easing out from the front door.
Down these steps comes an old woman, alone.
Do you see? She is like the house. Old, but still beautiful.Worn down but worthy of wonder for withstanding the world so far.
Holding on to her dignity and hoping that someone will notice before it's too late.
I wrote this the other night, while visiting one of my favourite pages on Facebook, Bangalore - Photos from a Bygone Age. I came across this photograph of one of Bangalore's few remaining lovely old houses - an endangered species in a city that overvalues profit. Looking into those empty squares felt like looking into the eyes of the house, and I felt like she had a story to tell. Of course, the story I've written is more mine than hers. I have no idea of her past or her present, although I have a pretty good idea of her future.
Thank you, Ajay, for letting me share your photograph so that my readers can see how this piece of writing came to be.