Walls Do Talk

Gucchaa, Kuldeep Shiwankar, Ratnabhargav, Stories of lovei

This was somewhere in 2005. There is this beautiful hillock Shiv Temple of Mallikarjun close to our College at a place called Goregaon. The hill had a quaint feel to it with a lazy flight of stairs taking you up the hill through a dense vegetation of swaying tropical trees. Once atop the hill you could see the railway line running through the plains beneath the hill. The hill had this beautiful stone deepastambh* in the middle and also a parapet constructed on the southern slope where we would sit for hours watching flocks and flocks of birds glide across the colorful sky, one after another - almost endlessly. Located at a distance away from the highway and the village, this place was very quiet and post noon you could hear the wind howling in the background. The howling wind would sweep up the plain and raise a very thin sheet of dust in the sky. Behind the suspended sheet of dust you could see the dark magnificent Sahyadri far away and above it the twinkling stars would slowly come up as the colossal sky would turn a dark shade of azure.

It was a winter day and the sun has just started to go down behind the temple. Winter evening at this hill had a different flavour to them. Me and Bhagi were sitting ideally contemplating the orange-purple sky when we heard someone talking at a distance behind us. The temple was a place for couples to hang out and this looked like a local boy and girl. They, I guess, had some disagreement because after sometime the girl stomped past us followed by the guy. 

He was shouting “Maine likh diya hai.” (I have written)

The girl turned and snapped back “Likh ne se kya hota hai? Koi patthar ki lakeer hai kya?” (So what? is it cast in stone?) 

After sometime we both got up to wear our sandals that were kept at the mandir entrance. That is when we saw this written on one of the walls

“Suno meri Shabana, main hu tera deewana” (A cheesy way of saying I love you Shabana)

We laughed a hearty laugh and slowly started to climb down the hill. I had always detested these Majnus who would spoil the walls at public places. But that writing on the wall that day got me thinking. I guess we all like to leave a mark of our presence in this world and the poor walls are the easiest access point. Etching and writings on the wall and school benches offer the kind of elusive permanency that a paper would never. Walls tend to accumulate a lot of memories and thus walls talk a lot. Both as a child and as adults we all use the walls extensively. So much so that even British had to design an idiom around it 'Writing on the Wall'.

During our graduation days each year we had to change our hostel rooms and we would land up in a new room with a lot of old tales. On day one I would take up a wet piece of cloth and clean up as much wall as I could. I am a man of fresh start. I like when there are new beginnings. When everything starts afresh and I can plan with vigor. But once in awhile when you are cleaning up, the old surprises you and makes you go down the memory lane - Bringing along a dull ache and some nostalgic moments.

This Diwali we decided to paint the house walls. The last coat was done almost 8 years back in 2010, months ahead of our wedding. Over the years the house walls had wear quite a bit. The passing time had chipped the plaster at some places and where all it was left Krisha and company had revised their school activities. They had put serpentine lines of various hues and men and women and flowers and stars on the walls. There were rivers and mountains as large as the 10 feet wall of the dinning and the never ending array of ABC across the house. They all had come one at a time, and had slowly occupied all the rooms and darkened the bright walls.

Krisha had put the walls to good use however it was now the time to wash them. Krisha was told that since the house was now going to get painted she could no longer draw on the walls and that she should only draw on papers. She however was a bit worried about where would all the people she had painted go. I told her that they would very much be here on the wall. Only they will be beneath layers of the new coat. They will still smile and the serpentine lined will still merrily run around the house but only others will be oblivious of them. This will be a secret, something only they, the kids will know.  

So the day when it was time to paint my room I was told to remove all the stuff from walls and shelves and lock them in the cupboard so that the paint and the putty dust would not spoil them. It was when I was removing the wedding photograph of ours did I notice those words. They were written by Bhagi and suddenly I was overwhelmed by the memories of the day when she had decided to write those words. But since I was running late for office, I simply stuffed all the frames and books in the cupboard and left in a hurry.

Once alone in the car that day played in my mind again. That day we were going to watch Tangled and I did not want to. I had on purpose come home late to dissuade her but she was ready even for the late night show.

“Bhagi why can’t we watch real stories,” I said trying one last time to sabotage the movie plan.

She was putting kajal in her eyes. Meeting my eyes through the mirror she said “Oh this is very much real.”

“It is a Fairy Tale Dost,” I said.

“Don't you believe in Fairy Tales?” She said with a raised eyebrow and a lot of mischief.

“I haven't seen any to believe in one,” I retorted.

“I thought ours is a Fairy Tale - Princess falling for a cunning wicked magician,” she continued in masti.

I laughed and said “Ours is real. Have you ever noticed how impossible the beginnings of Fairy Tales are? They start in Dragon Dungeons and High walled towers. They are too implausible to begin with. Real stories have real beginnings. Like ours - they begin in front of Physics Lab at 8 am on a winter morning.”

“Then let us begin again. Let us meet at a place which is impossible,” she said turning and now looking at me directly in my eyes.

“And ?” I asked with a giggle in my voice.

“And let us prove the world that some real stories have impossible beginnings too. Let us make ours a memorable one.”

“Bhagi you are wrong again. Memorable stories are never about the beginning dost. It is the end that defines which stories become immortal. Look at history of memorable stories Romeo - Juliet , Heer- Ranjha, Radha - Krishna,  Laila - Majnu. None of them married. They all just maintained their status quo. Had they been married they would have grown old raising children, managing schools and getting them married. We live a working class life. We'll have children, grow old together and die peacefully. That is hardly a recipe of a memorable story. We had the wrong beginning you see and we will have a routine end. We will be forgotten and….” I cupped her face in my palms and said “and I would want it to be that way. To grow old with you and live an ordinary life.”

For a while she remained silent and then snuggling at my chest she said. “Even I want it that way then, a routine love story. But a love story nonetheless. We will be so much together that we will never miss each other.”

“Promise ?”

At this she took her khol pencil, lifted our wedding photography that was hung in our bedroom wall and beneath the photography - on the wall she wrote- Together Always.

I asked “what is this?”

She said “patthar ki lakir.” (It's now cast in stone)

And we both laughed like crazy.

That evening when I came back to my freshly painted room. The words had vanished. I looked at that spot intently and beneath the fresh paint I saw nothing. I told myself, as I had told Krisha that the words are still there only they are oblivious to the naked eyes. Our new secret.

It has been a week now and the fresh paint looks good and the house a clean place. Krisha now writes and draws only on papers. I try looking at the walls to see if I could see a smiling person or a promise of eternity beneath the fresh paint. Sadly I see none. I have realized that to fool others you have to fool yourself first and that is not an easy task. 

My cousin was only yesterday telling my mom that the walls now look nice and truly they are. To be very true I too have no qualms. My only problem is - now the walls talk a little less. 


  1. Replies
    1. Heart touching. And the most I like about is to fool others you need to fool yourself first which is absolute so true . Keep writing kuli.

  2. Kuli... M speechless. Love to Krisha❤️

    Sonia from Batu


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