A Spectre at the Party

His mansion gleamed with a thousand lamps,

A thousand carriages at his gates,

Crystal glasses in unison clinked,

Fur and leather and gold cufflinks.

Strings of pearls amidst giggles and heels,

Lavish gowns swept the floor,

His table laden with elaborate meals-

The Mayor’s soiree, opulence galore.

With hearths and halls and secrets many,

The Mayor’s mansion- a giant edifice,

Several storeys above the ground,

Just as many below the surface.

A hundred men at the Sire’s bidding,

Had scrubbed each room that morning,

Save for the chambers underground,

Which to curious eyes, remained unseen.

Lavenders and voices and perfumed silk,

The evening alive and echoing through the house,

Kindled a rustle at the cells underneath,

And the spectre of a great old seigneur was roused.

Still in his robes of sapphire and gold,

The lord, once a fencer, now pale and old,

Held captive after a violent row,

And thrown into the dungeon half a century ago.

He smelled the smell of food and dance,

Sunken eyes springing to life,

He advanced to the doorway, as though in a trance,

Flooded with memories of when he was alive.

Of ballroom dancers and drinking bouts,

Of a table laden with freshly baked cakes,

As the spectre walked through the corridors,

He gasped at the finery, his dead heart ached.

An instant of silence, and they broke out in screams,

Running and tripping over boots and shawls,

Pallid with fear, chairs upturned,

Some had spotted the ghost in the hall.

Standing by a pillar he watched them dance,

His face gleamed with vicarious glee.

All he wanted was warm bread,

And a little wine to wet his throat,

A chair by the fireside,

To recount cheerful anecdotes.

But alas! The guests shrieked and scrammed,

Leaving behind a coat or two,

In shock and dread and haste alike,

Nobody bade the Mayor adieu.

Puzzled and hurt, the ghost of the Lord,

Pacing quietly through the marbled hall,

Stumbled upon a gilded mirror,

And his walk came to an abrupt halt.

Bones for shoulders where his blue robes hung,

A skull in place of a human head,

The Lord appalled at his own reflection,

Then realised why the guests had fled.

Gravely saddened, the Lord glanced,

At the scented and well lit room once more,

In great despair the spectre

Retired to his basement floor.

Via Discover Prompts: Hidden
https://wordpress.com/discover-wordpress/2020/04/26/discover-prompts-day-26-hidden/ 

Conquering a Demon

“Shhhh, careful!”, fearful, Jule hissed from behind us. “You shouldn’t have come with us. I knew you’d be scared and put up a fuss”, I scowled at her.

“Both of you be quiet, this isn’t the time for you to fight!”

We tiptoed around the table, past the long corridor and were able, to silently cross Aunt M’s bedroom. Even though I mocked Jule, in my heart of hearts, fear ruled. My mouth was as dry as the loaf Aunt M gives us for breakfast. I tugged hard at Moddy’s shirt.

“What?”, annoyed, he turned to look at me. “Aunt M might wake up anytime, it’s almost three.”

“Oh she won’t! Now keep quiet or go back, and I’ll do this on my own.”

I was too scared but I couldn’t let him unlock the cupboard alone. So I followed him with a silent groan. Not that I wanted to see my demon, but Moddy said it’d be the size of a lemon, since it fit into that little cupboard. Jule held on to my hand tight, and both of us with all our might, followed our leader closely.

Jule and I met Moddy last year during Christmas. He visits his grandma’s house every now and then, which is a few houses away from ours. This time, he came here to spend his summer holidays. “I don’t like you playing with him”, Aunt M says always. But we naturally reunited. We invited him over for lunch last week, little did we know an adventure he’d seek. No sooner had he entered the kitchen than the tiny marble cupboard made his eyes glisten. There wasn’t much else to evoke curiosity, but the little cupboard with flowers on it was exceptionally pretty.

It was forbidden too. Aunt M always kept it locked, and the keys dangled from an unreachable peg on the wall. We weren’t supposed to go near it at all. It contained an ugly demon, locked up by Aunt, who would otherwise get out to hunt, little kids like us.

But Moddy did not seem convinced at all. “How can it hunt if it’s tiny enough to fit into a cupboard so small? Lies!”, he said. Although his words seemed wise, Jule and I never tried going near it, until he wanted to see how the demon fits. “No! You’re not supposed to see it. It looks terrifying. It has long canines, and only one eye. Has red hands and black fangs.”, I tried explaining. But Moddy was a headstrong kid. A little older to us, he was eight. Jule and I were young and naive. I was seven and she was five.

So we stood on the floor, eager but tense, glancing at the door every now and then. Moddy dragged a chair and climbed with ease. Within a moment he had the keys. Jule and I covered our faces, planning to flee before the demon chases. But as soon as the cupboard was unlocked, all three of us were surprised and shocked.

There was a row of large glass jars. One was full of raisin tarts. The others contained colourful treats, jellies and cookies and all kinds of sweets. “Here’s your demon”, Moddy smiled evilly, and started off the task of emptying them speedily.

And with my mouthful of red-blue fiends, I wondered if it was a coincidence that Aunt M wasn’t quite fond of our friend.

Reflection #2

And you tire yourself out relentlessly looking for answers, when all you have to do is rephrase the question

Smell-less History

Monochrome movements on a wide glass screen-

A bright white sun, white robed delivery at a church.

Stooped black heads moving like ants in line,

But the chains were all human sized.

And the cloth sacks failed to hide whipped backs.

A long black train raced through the image noise,

Or maybe was its cause-

Exhaling black smoke along its way,

A thick burnt smell filled my thoughts

Mixed with blood and yellowed pages.

But let me breathe, unlike raging fire in marble hearths

At winter cities during lavish tours.

It let me breathe, unlike burnt red chillies in the neighbouring Granny’s kitchen.

Because, it was a story of the past,

And I was only watching black heads coughing at black smoke on a wide glass screen.

Via Daily Post: Delivery

Scribble Series #9-Writers’ Block

His blog posts became infrequent. The latest draft wasn’t touched up for a month.  Storey after storey, the high-rise completely covered the orphanage and the adjacent park from his view.

The builders successfully created a permanent writers’ block for the paralysed poet.

 

Fear

Mr. Bhusan was up at five in the morning as usual. Hastily washing his face, he opened the small window by the wooden table and got down to finishing his latest novel. It was the thirty-third draft, which he was about to discard, out of his eternal, persistent fear. Mr. Bhusan has remained an aspiring writer from his teenage, owing to the fact that he never managed to complete any of his works in over two decades. How could he? He has always suffered from an intense fear, almost like a phobia- his fear of unknowingly writing something that already exists. Of course the ideas could be similar, but what if his entire work turned out to be an unintentional copy of someone else’s work?

It all started some twenty-five years back, when Mr. Bhusan won a prize at his college for an essay. Since then, he decided to become an author. He confided in his sister his dreams, who had playfully remarked, “Beware, you might write something which already exists, and you won’t even know.” Alas, what was said in innocent humour proved to be Mr. Bhusan’s biggest fear. He wrote dozens of poems, expressing his love for doe-eyed women who he hadn’t met; tons of pages, novels about lost empires, heart-breaking tales about failed marriages and about anything possible under the heavens. But he never built up the guts to read them out in close circles of family or friends, let alone publish it. He wrote pages and pages and tore them down to unidentifiable pieces. There was his reason, lying in the open- who knew if some author hasn’t already penned down exactly the same things? He would be laughed at by the others. Or worse, people would call him a cheat. He was scared for a reputation which he hadn’t built, in the first place. He never had the nerve to show anyone his works. He stared blankly, his hands shook and the soles of his feet went ice-cold when someone even vaguely mentioned of his literary practices.

After years of struggle, when last Sunday, he almost convinced himself of the originality of his work, like he had done before on rare occasions, he headed to the publishers. But as always, halfway to the office, he had to stop. His heart beat crazily, sweat broke out all over his face and there were visions of him standing upon a podium and his readers throwing his book at him, along with paper balls and eggs. All he could manage was to take a sharp about turn, and walk back home rapidly.

But the good thing about him, or so he thought, was that he did not discard his dream of becoming a writer. So he woke up early in the morning everyday to finish a few hours of writing before he went to the kitchen to prepare lunch for his wife, who was a professor, and very particular about timing. Presently, he was intently working on his thirty-fourth draft, when his wife’s shrill cry broke his trance. “I don’t know how I fell for an aspiring writer and still staying with the same aspiring writer after nineteen years. My life is a farce!”, screamed an infuriated Padma. Mr. Bhusan sighed, and quickly got up to go to the kitchen, so that his wife could leave the house as soon as possible. She wouldn’t understand. He needed a peaceful environment to think, concentrate and write. Probably this time, he would make it to the publishers…

Via Daily Prompts:

Farce

A picturesque royalty

Bangalore Palace,

Bangalore, India

(Apologies for the unintentional mistake in the date mentioned in the picture, this picture was actually taken in 2013. The exact date is not available)

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