Houses of Dismay – (FICTION)

THIS a slender lane up to a hummock – fussy and fresh, and deep down its throat is a crowd of pine trees, its horizontal stretch is conquered with vibrantly draped kiosks, the vendors hawking audibly in soulful decibels – garishly multi-coloured shawls with subtle patterns on them and boastful artifacts portraying the traditional sculpture and image of this rugged and cold region.


Yesterday, at dusk I had arrived at my uncle’s home. His home is a timeworn yet reminiscently salient single-storey bungalow with italic roof, oversize windows, its exterior off-white walls are adorned with creepers, its modest lawn shielded with wild grass and fenced with a corroded iron gate.


I had cautiously unbolted the gate and squealed, “Uncle, I am here!” An unexpected icy breeze sprinted towards me as I rambled down the concrete path in the direction of a large tatty wooden door. “Your old uncle died a week ago”, an unexpected harsh mocking reply of a middle aged man from across the gate froze me.


“Are you serious?” I cynically bounced back to answer but by then he had hurried far in the gloom. I turned to notice a rusty lock on the door. I exhaled hard in disbelieve, three days back I had spoken to my uncle on the landline.


In dismay, I dragged my luggage out of the gate into the white dusty road and started trekking towards the bus-stop. In the moonlight, I spotted a houseboat sparkling brightly at a wind of a lake. I oddly halted near the structure and gazed at its mystical beauty.  “This is my houseboat”, a cold pat on my back alerted me.   


I turned towards the meek voice; she was an old lady with the warmest smile. “Why don’t you rest in my house tonight? This place is unsafe for women”. I inescapably agreed and stepped in the houseboat, radiant with lanterns.  She guided me to lie down on a sofa under a huge chandelier.


The mornings rays disturbed my sleep, I stared at a chandelier bunged with cobwebs and was surrounded by damaged furniture capped with dense dust. I immediately hurdled out, to by disbelief, this houseboat was a dilapidated wooden structure. “This is a haunted house”, a harsh mocking reaction shocked me. I turned to spot the same middle aged man who had now hurried far in the woods.


“I shouldn’t have come here”, I criticized myself at the bus-stop on the slender lane up to a hummock, impatiently waiting to go home.



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