Monday, May 14, 2012

Let me do it my way..!

The state of the house spoke volumes. The inside roof across the rooms looked threatening with stone slabs resting on termite-infested wooden beams. With plenty of seepages in the walls, everything smelled musty. Once could inhale the dampness all the time.

Flaking speckles of whitewash often peeled off and, mixed with dust, lined the damaged floors. Disused furniture rotted. A couple of rooms had curtains, actually old bedsheets or ragged sarees, hanging limp and moth-eaten. The outside roof was green with moss and threatened to cave in at many places.

The structures didn’t have a feel of a house because rooms were not separate. There were too many entrances and exists. It was, effectively, one huge hall with haphazardly erected walls creating living spaces and makeshift windows and doors, some never opened and others never closed, hardly serving any purpose.

At one point, the house didn’t look that bad. The courtyard had plenty of trees and plants. The old structures had their old charm. Furniture were beautifully designed. Doors looked majestic. But things began to change when she, about a decade into her marriage, began taking control and tried to turn the bulky, ancestral house into her esthetically pleasing dream house, where birds would chirp, plants would blossom, separate entrances and exists for men, women and outsiders would mean complete privacy.

The deadly combination of dwindling resources, financial constraints and her never-dieing zeal to “turn the house around” meant construction would often have to halt midway. The next time it began the basic plans were completely changed. Her imagination had taken a fresh set of wings, undoing what had been done till then and making room for further mess.

The kitchen was shifted more than a dozen times. It was almost a routine to see some windows being closed with a layer of bricks shutting the outside view out. At other times, workers would break into a wall to create a new window, letting the much-awaited sunlight filter in. Nobody was really surprised to see a bedroom being turned into the bathroom.

I could never solve the mystery of handpumps. The numbers kept swelling. Maybe, it was because of her love for water. Or her madness for cleanliness. The handpumps, strategically located, outnumbered the occupants of the house
And, sometimes, the visitors too.

(We don't extend such wishes. We never have.
But since she perhaps cannot read it, let me say: "Happy mother's day!")


  1. I don't blame her. It is difficult to allow houses to die their 'natural' death once they seem to have outlived their purpose. So many sentiments are associated with each and every brick, so to say. And I understand your helplessness too in being unable to halt the march of time. Give your mother my regards. She is a woman of great courage and forbearance.

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