Across the house I live in, at the other side of the street, behind the silhouette of the Guava and the Pear tree rests a desolate house belonging to a Tibetian couple whom I assume is not less than seven decades old. The house is bounded by walls at all its four sides and the only entrance is the low gate just opposite to ours. The house lies next to street that I walk on my way to college. Nothing guards the house, but loneliness and an old dog whose cheeks has lost its youthfulness and is hanging below his jaw line. I have a feeling that the dog has miraculously survived and is as old as the couple. Sometimes it barks at me with its toothless, protruding mouth but as I near him from outside the gate, he drops its tail between his legs and pees. It barks few coughs to the bikes that ply the street. Basically he barks at anything unfamiliar to him. That perhaps must be the technique he must have derived after much contemplation as to how he should maintain his worthiness in the eyes of his owners; by barking with all the little energy he has for if he don’t, he has learned the human way of thinking and knows that his owner would forget how sleepless nights he had guarding the house when he was young and replace him with another youthful dog who later would be bestowed with the same fate.
Every morning as I walk to college the elderly couple would be sitting on a chair each with a table in between in the veranda of their bungalow, fumbling crimson beads and reciting prayers. You do not hear the prayers, only murmurs. The table in between would be loaded with eatables of mango and guava. Two cups would also be sitting on the table. Two little thin and pale girls with their skin tanned by the heat of the sun, who must be in their early teens perhaps either from Bihar or Nepal is assigned to attend to the needs of the couple even before the old couple needs the need. One fine Sunday I sat at the veranda of the house that I have rented and attempted to finish reading a book, only to find myself looking across the street the whole day to see what happens. Nothing really happened. The girls do the laundry, cook for the couple and do the dishes, clean the house-interior and the exterior and at last if time permits and they have little time at their disposal, they sit together under the shade of the guava tree and played a game that involves patting each other’s hand until one of the elderly couple needs something again. I wondered how the old souls couldn’t see the girls playing and needed them time and again a minute.
I only assume that many years ago the house had been a home and that when all the elements of a home ran away due to the untamed old soul which persisted to hold on to each particle of its soil, it finally became a house. Otherwise why would a lovely looking house remain lonely with all its empty rooms when it has the strength to shelter three generations and still have room for the air to enter and leave?