It was a really old, dilapidating house. Built God knows how many years ago. Its architecture belonged to some long begone age, an architecture that no one nowadays would consider for their homes. But to her, it was the only one to consider.
That house stood uninhabited. Decript. Unattended. It stood there, silent, while all other buildings around it raced ahead with the pace of time. They grew multi-storeyed, modern, with latest tiles and balconies, wooden frames and coated doors, modular kitchens and all of that schnitz. And amongst them, stood this one – single-storeyed, short, stumpy, hunching down in its old age. Like a contended, smiling old, lonely man who needs nobody and has long resigned himself from running the rat race to glory.
The House was cracking up from all places. Wrinkles of age cut across its walls and roofs, cracked up its terrace. Like a withered old tree. The lawn floor was unkempt and ragged, home to God knows what all rodents and reptiles. All the trees and plants in its lawn were overgrown and unattended. Right next to the gate stood a dried up tree with long, pointed, brown branches edging and racing in all directions and tilting out on to the street so that you could see the house approaching as you drove past.
Its paint had now discoloured. Even the moss all over the walls wasn’t green anymore and had turned black. The house remained silent there in the hissing, bustling neighbourhood. Ignored by the neighbours and passers by. It was as if time had stopped ticking a long time back in those premises and now it had no desire to even keep up. It was contented. It only crept at its own pace, like an old, lonely man who just didn’t care.
It was that house that she wanted.
She reported back everyday to a three-storey high house, marbled, painted in fresh pink, and very huge by the standards of a normal middle-class Delhi house. It was built by her ancestors. She was proud of it but she wanted that one… That silent, old man
That silence grew on her every time she went past that house on the street. It was like she could discover all the hidden secrets of the past – an unlimited, uninhibited past where the clock could go on unwinding further and further back till she got tired of it. And she wouldn’t tire; she knew it. The past meant something special to her. It smirked at her as it held so many secrets. She felt a certain relief about the idea of the past, the time gone by. It held a surety for her. She couldn’t define it well and neither can I. Everyone can move along ahead in time. There is no big deal about it. After all, as we live, we live with the time as it unfolds. People have no choice but to live the future, the unfolding time. But very few can live the future as well as the past. It is the past that holds gold treasures. Only the lucky few get to play the treasure hunt and open the old, rusty chests of the forgotten time that carry secrets, the furtive mistakes, naughty misdeeds, sly mischiefs. Yet all of these were safe and secure because that time had passed by.
She wanted that house. And she wouldn’t renew it. She wouldn’t infuse a new life into it; it needed none…it held too much of life from the past already…