Sunday, 1 June 2014

Still beautiful.



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.

7 comments:

Barb Schanel said...

This reminds me of two photographs I have of the three or four year old daughter of a friend of mine. She's dressed in an ankle length black velvet dress. In one photo she's walking down the steps of an old house looking down with a very pensive expression, and in the other she is gazing, with an almost mournful expression, out an upper floor window. The paint on the window frame is cracked and chipped, the the panes a little dirty from lack of use, and outside is a rainy autumn day. I don't know if my descriptions suffice, but these two photos have always made me believe I could write an entire novel about them.

Barb Schanel said...

This reminds me of two photographs I have of the three or four year old daughter of a friend of mine. She's dressed in an ankle length black velvet dress. In one photo she's walking down the steps of an old house looking down with a very pensive expression, and in the other she is gazing, with an almost mournful expression, out an upper floor window. The paint on the window frame is cracked and chipped, the the panes a little dirty from lack of use, and outside is a rainy autumn day. I don't know if my descriptions suffice, but these two photos have always made me believe I could write an entire novel about them.

zohra said...

Love it Nazu!
Finally had little time to read this and I knew I needed to savour it, not rush through it.
I know the questions were made me smile/think/hope and I chose think but really it made me tingle and hold onto the tears.
Thank you for sharing it.

shivani said...

Really beautiful thoughts...lyrical conjuring of images. I could see it like it happens in movies...sepia tainted with voices seeming to emerge from far away.
Yeah houses are like people or people become like houses. An empty house looks like it's waiting to echo with all that you have just penned so beautifully. Same with people.

Ranga Raj said...

Spent decades of my childhood in this house. Buzzing with activity, numerous folks passing through, many marriages held, great paintings and fond memories of vintage Austin parked in the garage, an uncle with a cigarette lovingly taking care of the garden.. All cousins used to get together from various parts of the country during school holidays. Learnt how to cycle, played every possible game and hopped from one house to another (the whole block was owned by siblings). Rekindled memories.. Thank you!

Raj

Priya Cima said...

I'm not sure where the picture came from or who took it...but this is my great grandmother's house in Bangalore, India. And yes, if this house, walls could speak the stories it would tell of love, happiness, tears and fears....

Nazneen Tonse said...

And this is why I blog! I love connecting the universe, not just from here to there, but from now to then! So excited to see Ranga and Priya's comments, and thrilled that I was able to bring back happy memories.