Two hands leaped up from behind all of a sudden, held her in an iron grasp and two rough palms slapped on her face, shutting her eyes and sealing her mouth and nose, gagging her. She was pulled away, dragged into a room, she couldn’t tell which one and pushed and hauled down unending stairs. She slipped and tripped until she felt water at her feet………..
The steps descended into water and with each step the water level increased and she immersed deeper and deeper into a mass of cold water as she was continued to be pushed forward and dragged downward. This was the secret room she realized with horror, the room she had never seen but heard of, a dark room that offenders were taken into and once the heavy iron door was shut behind them, they were never to be seen or heard of, ever again. Cold fear ran down her throat like thick black liquid darkness and she lost consciousness just when she was neck deep in water. She sank to the bottom swaying and swinging, in a slow motion as the seven colours of the rainbow closed in around her. Then she awoke, in another world, far away, at another time frame, where the past and a future merged and formed a melting floating present that kept her buoyed up holding on to her life of dreams.
The house stayed awake waiting for her, every night. She came, without fail, for her nocturnal tryst with the house, a house she loathed and had fled with the love of her life, leaving her servile security and her two year long indifferent unconsummated marriage behind. The musical instruments played when she came, invisible expert hands creating a divine harmonious melody, the strings of the esraj and the tanpura jingled, only too happy to obey her wish as the table played in a perfect rhythm. The envious eyes of long ago glowed with joy and her voice sang out in such harmony with the stringed instruments that the chandelier danced in ecstasy. She sat there, eyes closed, singing, one raga after another, caressing with her voice when she sang the alap in a slow tempo, invoking not just the raga but her love, playing with all the seven notes in her soul, and then her heart racing, her entire being throbbing with passion reaching a crescendo when she sang the drut gat, the fast section, the percussion joining in, the tabla playing the fervour of her unfulfilled passion. She sang her heart out, all that she had learnt long ago, in the secrecy of her room, from one who began as her teacher and soon became synonymous to her with music, her love. When he sang, her body became the tanpura, the seven notes resonated through her and she melted within, swooned with pleasure. She was forbidden to enter the music room, let alone sing, reprimanded by a stern husband twenty years older than her and a stranger to her heart and body. She hated the music room. And the more she hated, the more she loved it. So she sat on the terrace on the nights there would be a mehfil, gazing at the room below through the skylight, taking in all she could, like the terrace that absorbed the overflowing moonlight. She admired him, the singer, who seemed to be god when he sang, and devised a way to meet him and convince him of her plans.
The sighs float around in the house, hit the walls and multiply. A dream shattered, a journey aborted midway. She had no qualms about leaving her husband and her home. She never had considered the middle-aged stranger as her husband. She hardly saw him. She felt relieved when he went on his trips to the city twice a month, and stayed away for a few days. Her heart sang, her spirits danced and she dwelled in the midst of love. She loved. Till he came to know. Met the lovers at the gateway as they prepared to leave. Flee the prison. Run away from the desert to the valley of flowers, love and music. The master, the proprietor, the stern ruler gave commands and the orders were executed. She became his prisoner forever. Drawn to his house, his music room. Returning every night, to drown her sighs in music.