Dilapidation and decay

Dilapidation and decay : An expression in words and images

When I was a child, of about 5 or 6 years old, I used to pass by a house which looked always in ruins.  One day, out of what feeling I don’t clearly remember, I asked my father to tell me why it was like that always. He looked at me, with an expression on his face the meaning of which I could not make out, for a moment or two silently and told that it had its story, which even if told to me I would not be able to comprehend it and make out anything out of it, at that small age.  I did not, however, keep quiet.  I noded my head as if I understood whatever my father said and asked another question, to let me know since when the house was like that.  Since long, my father said and with some kindness on me, let out an additional information that no one in the village had till then dared to lay even a step towards the house as far as he knew; that they feared the house very much and at the same time respected its present state and never tryed to disturb it.  So, the summary was, I too should never venture to pass a look towards that house and if by quirk fate even if I looked at it, I should not take a step forwrd towards the house in any event.  I, however, perhaps out of childish curiosity, could not resist myself having a look of the house whenever I passed by it, but respecting my father’s words never ventured to lay my foot towards it, though something in me always seemed to push me towards that house in ruins.

It went on like that till we left the village.  Without my knowledge, I, however, carried the image of the house – a small old fashioned village house, with roof made of earthern tiles which went in at many a place, which looked dilapidated and decayed due to passage of time over it, with lot of place around it which is occupied by wildly grown bushes, shurbs and plants and the entire setup engulfed in endless silence. Over the years, this image has become the standardised image for me for words like dilapidation, decay, ruins etc., and whenever there was a mention of these words anywhere, my imagination and visualisation always started from that house.

A ruin, in normal situation, is the result of discard, for reasons best known to none other than those who discarded.  A house in normal situation is a shelter for men, women and children, not only in their physical forms but also in the forms of their joys, sorrows and other sorts of emotions.  A temple in normal situation is the shelter for not only the Gods and Goddesses inside them in their physical forms but also in the form of resonations of the chantings of sacred verses (mantra) of the attendants (pujaris), the resonances of ringing of the temple bells, the silent whispers of the foot prints of thousands of devotees who circumambulate the God’s abode (garbha griha) inside the main temple, the cracking of coconuts, the smells of camphor, incense and countless number of wishes silently spelt out before the God by the believing devotees. So, whenever there is an instance of dilapidation, decay and ruin, it is the thought of these human emotions left out as if unwanted that pains the heart and it is this pain, felt unnoticedly and sublimely though, that makes the site of the ruin a possibility for imagination.


Human heart has the power and the force to make visualisation of any emotion possible within an unimaginably short time, within even batting of an eyelid. Silence and the scene of dilapidation and decay left untouched by the human hand for so long a time, make it look like a canvas, an empty canvas, kept ready for drawing anything one wanted to draw, according to his/her own imagination.  This is nothing less than poetry, a poem written in air for persons to breathe and draw as many inferences as possible according to the levels of their capacity for imaginations. Some people look and sigh. Some fall deep into queer depths of melancholy. Some go a step further and grope for words that appear to have been taking shape in their imagination to form a poem. Of them, a few succeed!

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