Have you ever been on a bridge that runs past a house with many windows? Did you notice one particular window, only half ajar, while the closed shutter hid the pain and the darkness within? Did it have the hint of a curtain, once floral and bright , now dusty and faded by the western sun? Did the walls have their erstwhile glory peeling to reveal the stark, rude present and was a young Peepul starting to take control over the parapet beneath?
Was it a summer afternoon mellowing into evening? A balmy wind must have lifted a wisp of the fragrant Chameli you bought from the little boy at the last crossroad and it made you look out at the distance, at the house, at the window. Did you see a face at that window?
Did the face look gently at you and then look away? The eyes – were they forlorn, looking out at the distant sun setting, maybe? And after you had crossed and continued, did you wonder about the face? The aging, once beautiful face, did it have a story?
Did you keep wondering what her thoughts were, whether she sat there every evening, looking out, looking at the rush of life flowing by her window?
I have seen so many of these faces, in some of the aging cities I have visited or lived in. A face in a window, from a bridge or from the street looking up to admire an old house or maybe from another window across the street. Always from a distance. Everytime the face looked the same to me. A picture of life halted, waiting to pick up the threads, maybe. Or maybe left behind to wait by her window for her future to come calling. But always, before the story could unfold, before the face could reveal more, I had passed on.