There were days and there were nights, one rolling into the other, fading, mingling and engulfing each other. Indifferent days didn’t seem to affect the house much. They passed by in an unobserved routine play of light and shadow, seen only by the trees in the century-old unkempt garden and the drying pond heavily silted up with withered decaying leaves and fast-spreading water hyacinth that made the water body look like a field thick with vegetation fitted with little mirrors positioned strategically to reflect the sun at different times of the day. The dilapidated mansion didn’t care about day, or the sun. It stood in the midst of a wild growth of greens half-hidden by the aggressive woody limbs, itself sprouting dwarf trees all over its brick and mortar body. The house responded only to the winds. The rickety wooden window shutters with blinds that were falling apart, loosened from the rusty hinges, would swing in a gusty wind, singing a haunting distorted repetitive tune.
But the nights were alive. They spoke to the house. They played dark games, secret ones that only they knew, embraced and loved the house in its dark corners, lurking shadows and whispering silence. The moonlight lolled and rolled, when it visited the lonely house, in glee on the rough cobbled surface of the terrace and peeped playfully through the skylights with broken panes to gaze at the chandelier hanging in the sprawling spacious music room below. The chandelier danced in the breeze that crept in, hand in hand with the moon, a soft dance, the pendulous crystal pieces tinkling like anklets on the fair moon’s dainty feet.
The chequered marble floor in what was white and black one day, now an un-uniform grey, would feel cold if one stood barefoot there. One pair of feet did tread on the floor, into the room every night, but never felt the cold. They came in search of a warmth never felt, a melody never found, but longed for, with a burning yearning desire. But of that, later. At right angle to each other, against two walls, were a dusty chaise longue and a low bed, a kind of divan, expansive enough to accommodate at least ten people lying down. But ten people had never lain there ever. Only one did, half-lying, propped up by two velvet bolsters with five odd companions and three attendants, enclosed in a magical world as a pair of hungry eager yearning eyes watched, from the terrace, through the skylight, alone, with the moon for company. That was long ago. But the sighs in those longing envious eyes didn’t disappear into the roaming terrace air of yesteryears. They still hovered around the house, in the music room, lying low during the day, raging at night, becoming thick and solid like the tangible darkness all around that one could collide with, if not careful.
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.
….to be continued